[ adjective bit-er-sweet, bit-er-sweet; noun bit-er-sweet ]
See synonyms for bittersweet on
  1. both bitter and sweet to the taste: bittersweet chocolate.

  2. both pleasant and painful or regretful: a bittersweet memory.

  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.

  1. pleasure mingled with pain or regret: the bittersweet of parting.

Origin of bittersweet

Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400; see origin at bitter, sweet

Other words from bittersweet

  • bit·ter·sweet·ly, adverb
  • bit·ter·sweet·ness, noun

Words Nearby bittersweet Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use bittersweet in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for bittersweet


/ (ˈbɪtəˌswiːt) /

  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

  1. tasting of or being a mixture of bitterness and sweetness

  2. pleasant but tinged with sadness

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