1. sharply caustic or sarcastic, as wit or a speaker; biting.
  2. burning; corrosive.
  3. having the property of fixing colors, as in dyeing.
  1. a substance used in dyeing to fix the coloring matter, especially a metallic compound, as an oxide or hydroxide, that combines with the organic dye and forms an insoluble colored compound or lake in the fiber.
  2. an adhesive substance for binding gold or silver leaf to a surface.
  3. an acid or other corrosive substance used in etching to eat out the lines, areas, etc.
  4. Music. mordent.
verb (used with object)
  1. to impregnate or treat with a mordant.

Origin of mordant

1425–75; late Middle English < Middle French, present participle of mordre to bite ≪ Latin mordēre; see -ant
Related formsmor·dant·ly, adverbun·mor·dant, adjectiveun·mor·dant·ly, adverb

Synonyms for mordant

1. cutting, stinging, acerbic, scathing. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for mordantly

Contemporary Examples of mordantly

  • Rylance was unforgettable as the mordantly sly king in Richard III, giving a brilliant new twist to a classic role.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Who Will Win the Tony Awards?

    Janice Kaplan

    June 7, 2014

  • Booklist says her “brilliantly structured stories are mordantly funny, haunting, and wise, making for a glorious collection.”

    The Daily Beast logo
    This Week's Hot Reads

    The Daily Beast

    November 22, 2010

Historical Examples of mordantly

British Dictionary definitions for mordantly


  1. sarcastic or caustic
  2. having the properties of a mordant
  3. pungent
  1. a substance used before the application of a dye, possessing the ability to fix colours in textiles, leather, etcSee also lake 2 (def. 1)
  2. an acid or other corrosive fluid used to etch lines on a printing plate
  1. (tr) to treat (a fabric, yarn, etc) with a mordant
Derived Formsmordancy, nounmordantly, adverb

Word Origin for mordant

C15: from Old French: biting, from mordre to bite, from Latin mordēre
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 mordantly



late 15c., "caustic" (of words, speech), from Middle French mordant, literally "biting," present participle of mordre "to bite," from Latin mordere "to bite, bite into; nip, sting;" figuratively "to pain, cause hurt," perhaps from PIE root mer- (2) "to rub away, harm" (see smart (v.)). Related: Mordantly. The noun sense in dyeing is first recorded 1791; the adjective in this sense is from 1902. Related: Mordancy; mordantly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

mordantly in Medicine


  1. Serving to fix colors in dyeing.
  1. A reagent, such as tannic acid, that fixes dyes to cells, tissues, or other materials.
  1. To treat with a mordant.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.