View synonyms for bittersweet


[ adjective bit-er-sweet, bit-er-sweet; noun bit-er-sweet ]


  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.
  3. pleasure mingled with pain or regret:

    the bittersweet of parting.


/ 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

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Other Words From

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

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Word History and Origins

Origin of bittersweet1

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English; bitter + sweet

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Example Sentences

That’s somewhat bittersweet that those celebrations and ways of bringing people together can’t happen.

A generous amount of chopped bittersweet chocolate is added, and a quick roll in sugar makes them shimmer.

It was a bittersweet moment for Engel-Natzke and her family.

It took connections from the Art Institute and his pieces going viral online for Leonard to eventually land the Netflix deal in August — but it was a bittersweet moment.

From Ozy

It’s a sweet and simple movie with a healthy dose of bittersweet wistfulness for a fading world, and it’s beautiful.

From Vox

Last week I turned 40, a bittersweet occasion because I crossed the line to living longer without my mother than with her.

This final episode of Extras is the perfect Christmastime escape for those who prefer the bittersweet to the saccharine.

Other countries understand the bittersweet better than we do.

And the Marc show where the only song was Bittersweet Symphony.

On July 9, South Sudan will mark three years since independence, but any celebration will be bittersweet.

Around the case he planted wild clematis, bittersweet, and wild-grapevines, and trained them over it until it was almost covered.

The flowers are gone, but they were not brighter than the winter berries and bittersweet that glow around one.

It was the Club that decorated the house with brown sedges and stalks of upstanding tawny corn and vines of bittersweet.

Celastrus scandens, more commonly known as bittersweet, is a native vine that can easily be domesticated.

This tiny beak we can readily distinguish bent beneath the body of our bittersweet hopper.


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More About Bittersweet

What does bittersweet mean?

Bittersweet describes something that tastes both harsh or acrid and sugary, such as a chocolate with less sugar, intended for baking into something sweet, like a cake.

Bittersweet also describes something that is both pleasant and regretful, such as graduating from high school. You’re excited about what comes after high school, but you’ll miss seeing your friends everyday. Graduation is a bittersweet moment.

Bittersweet is another name for Solanum dulcamara, or woody nightshade, a creeping, vine-like plant that can be poisonous in large quantities.

Bittersweet could also refer to any climbing plant of the genus Celastrus.

Example: I take just a little sugar in my coffee because I like a bittersweet taste.

Where does bittersweet come from?

The first records of the term bittersweet come from the 1300s. It is a Middle English term that combines the words bitter and sweet. Bitter comes from the Gothic baitrs, and sweet comes from the Latin suāvis, meaning “pleasant.” 

The literal and figurative uses of bittersweet are used almost equally. Several popular fruits are bittersweet, including cranberries, sour cherries, blackberries, Granny Smith apples, and blueberries. (We like ours dipped in bittersweet chocolate!)

The figurative bittersweet often describes an event or a memory of an event that is both happy and sad. Often when something comes to an end, such as a show, production, career, or anything that has a definite beginning and end, you might feel that the ending is bittersweet because it is sad that it is ending but happy because it had a successful run.

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What are some other forms related to bittersweet?

  • bittersweetly (adverb)
  • bittersweetness (noun)

What are some synonyms for bittersweet?

What are some words that share a root or word element with bittersweet

What are some words that often get used in discussing bittersweet?

How is bittersweet used in real life?

Bittersweet is most often used to describe a feeling or flavor.

Try using bittersweet!

Is bittersweet used correctly in the following sentence?

Leaving for camp is always bittersweet because I know I’ll miss my bed, but I also love nature.