sourness, with roughness or astringency of taste.
harshness or severity, as of temper or expression.

Origin of acerbity

From the Latin word acerbitās, dating back to 1565–75. See acerbic, -ity Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for acerbity

Historical Examples of acerbity

  • Now, she spoke with some acerbity in her voice, which could at will be wondrous soft and low.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • “I would have thought her mother should have kept her in order,” said Rachel with acerbity.

    Clare Avery

    Emily Sarah Holt

  • After a time Mern suggested with acerbity that Craig was incoherent.

  • "You have promised me," he began, with a note of acerbity in his voice.

    The Green Rust

    Edgar Wallace

  • Much annoyed, I answered with some acerbity, bidding her kindly to be gone.

    Fibble, D. D.

    Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb

British Dictionary definitions for acerbity


noun plural -ties

vitriolic or embittered speech, temper, etc
sourness or bitterness of taste
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for acerbity

1570s, from Middle French acerbité, from Latin acerbitatem (nominative acerbitas) "harshness, sharpness, bitterness," from acerbus "bitter to taste, sharp, sour, tart" (related to acer "sharp;" cf. Latin superbus "haughty," from super "above"), from Proto-Italic *akro-po- "sharp," from PIE *ak- "sharp" (see acrid). Earliest use in English is figurative, of "sharp and bitter" persons. Of tastes, from 1610s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper