noun, plural as·per·i·ties.

harshness or sharpness of tone, temper, or manner; severity; acrimony: The cause of her anger did not warrant such asperity.
hardship; difficulty; rigor: the asperities of polar weather.
roughness of surface; unevenness.
something rough or harsh.

Origin of asperity

1200–50; late Middle English asperite (< Anglo-French) < Latin asperitās, equivalent to asper rough + -itās -ity; replacing Middle English asprete < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin

Synonyms for asperity

Antonyms for asperity Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for asperity

Contemporary Examples of asperity

  • He looked at the president when the president spoke, and his expression revealed no asperity or disdain.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Why Obama Lost

    David Frum

    October 4, 2012

Historical Examples of asperity

  • "I've not the slightest doubt of that," returned the old lady with asperity.


    William J. Locke

  • "Quite unnecessary, Smithson," Gilder returned, with asperity.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • "It wasn't very polite," said Mrs. Bartlett with some asperity.

  • "You will if you wait," advised Farrell, a tinge of asperity in his tone.


    W. A. Fraser

  • From this Claude went on to remark with asperity that Murillo painted like an ignoramus.

British Dictionary definitions for asperity


noun plural -ties

roughness or sharpness of temper
roughness or harshness of a surface, sound, taste, etc
a condition hard to endure; affliction
physics the elastically compressed region of contact between two surfaces caused by the normal force

Word Origin for asperity

C16: from Latin asperitās, from asper rough
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 asperity

c.1200, asprete "hardship, harshness of feelings," a figurative use, from Old French asperité "difficulty, painful situation, harsh treatment" (12c., Modern French âpreté), from Latin asperitatem (nominative asperitas) "roughness," from asper "rough, harsh," of unknown origin; in Latin used also of sour wine, bad weather, and hard times. Figurative meaning "harshness of feeling" attested from early 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper