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bitter

[bit-er]
See more synonyms for bitter on Thesaurus.com
adjective, bit·ter·er, bit·ter·est.
  1. having a harsh, disagreeably acrid taste, like that of aspirin, quinine, wormwood, or aloes.
  2. producing one of the four basic taste sensations; not sour, sweet, or salt.
  3. hard to bear; grievous; distressful: a bitter sorrow.
  4. causing pain; piercing; stinging: a bitter chill.
  5. characterized by intense antagonism or hostility: bitter hatred.
  6. hard to admit or accept: a bitter lesson.
  7. resentful or cynical: bitter words.
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noun
  1. that which is bitter; bitterness: Learn to take the bitter with the sweet.
  2. British. a very dry ale having a strong taste of hops.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to make bitter: herbs employed to bitter vermouth.
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adverb
  1. extremely; very; exceedingly: a bitter cold night.
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Origin of bitter

before 1000; Middle English, Old English biter; cognate with German bitter, Old Norse bitr, Gothic baitrs; akin to bite
Related formsbit·ter·ish, adjectivebit·ter·ly, adverbbit·ter·ness, nounnon·bit·ter, adjectiveo·ver·bit·ter, adjectiveo·ver·bit·ter·ly, adverbo·ver·bit·ter·ness, nounun·bit·ter, adjective
Can be confusedbidder bitter

Synonyms

See more synonyms for bitter on Thesaurus.com
1. acrid, biting, distasteful. 3. distressing, poignant, painful. 4. biting, nipping. 5. fierce, cruel, ruthless, relentless. 7. acrimonious, caustic, sardonic, scornful.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bitterness

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Then, the bitterness of Garson's soul was revealed by the fierceness in his voice as he replied.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Her words rushed forth with a bitterness that was the cover of her distress.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • She remembered the bitterness of her month's exile, and its probable cause.

    K

    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • While Margaret groaned in bitterness, she heard a knock at the street door.

    The Wives of The Dead

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • We who were near to Helen have been slow to recover from the shock and the bitterness of her death.


British Dictionary definitions for bitterness

bitter

adjective
  1. having or denoting an unpalatable harsh taste, as the peel of an orange or coffee dregsCompare sour (def. 1)
  2. showing or caused by strong unrelenting hostility or resentmenthe was still bitter about the divorce
  3. difficult or unpleasant to accept or admita bitter blow
  4. cutting; sarcasticbitter words
  5. bitingly colda bitter night
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adverb
  1. very; extremely (esp in the phrase bitter cold)
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noun
  1. a thing that is bitter
  2. British beer with a high hop content, with a slightly bitter taste
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verb
  1. to make or become bitter
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See also bitters
Derived Formsbitterly, adverbbitterness, noun

Word Origin

Old English biter; related to bītan to bite
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 bitterness

n.

Old English biternys "bitterness, grief;" see bitter + -ness. Figurative sense (of feelings, etc.) is attested earlier than literal sense (of taste), which will surprise no one who reads any amount of Anglo-Saxon literature.

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bitter

adj.

Old English biter "bitter, sharp, cutting; angry, embittered; cruel," from Proto-Germanic *bitras- (cf. Old Saxon bittar, Old Norse bitr, Dutch bitter, Old High German bittar, German bitter, Gothic baitrs "bitter"), from PIE root *bheid- "to split" (cf. Old English bitan "to bite;" see bite (v.)). Evidently the meaning drifted in prehistoric times from "biting, of pungent taste," to "acrid-tasting." Used figuratively in Old English of states of mind and words. Related: Bitterly.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with bitterness

bitter

In addition to the idioms beginning with bitter

  • bitter end
  • bitter pill to swallow

also see:

  • take the bitter with the sweet
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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.