• synonyms


[adjective bit-er-sweet, bit-er-sweet; noun bit-er-sweet]
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  1. both bitter and sweet to the taste: bittersweet chocolate.
  2. both pleasant and painful or regretful: a bittersweet memory.
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  1. Also called woody nightshade. a climbing or trailing plant, Solanum dulcamara, of the nightshade family, having small, violet, star-shaped flowers with a protruding yellow center and scarlet berries.
  2. Also called climbing bittersweet. any climbing plant of the genus Celastrus, bearing orange capsules opening to expose red-coated seeds, especially C. scandens.
  3. pleasure mingled with pain or regret: the bittersweet of parting.
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Origin of bittersweet

Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400; see origin at bitter, sweet
Related formsbit·ter·sweet·ly, adverbbit·ter·sweet·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for bittersweet

rose, flaming, maroon, glowing, cardinal, crimson, coral, wine, cantaloupe, bittersweet, titian, peach, apricot, salmon, carrot, tangerine, pink, cherry, sanguine, carmine

Examples from the Web for bittersweet

Contemporary Examples of bittersweet

Historical Examples of bittersweet

British Dictionary definitions for bittersweet


  1. any of several North American woody climbing plants of the genus Celastrus, esp C. scandens, having orange capsules that open to expose scarlet-coated seeds: family Celastraceae
  2. another name for woody nightshade
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  1. tasting of or being a mixture of bitterness and sweetness
  2. pleasant but tinged with sadness
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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 bittersweet

also bitter-sweet, late 14c. as a noun; used especially in Middle English of a type of apple, from bitter (adj.) + sweet (adj.). As an adjective, attested from 1610s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper