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  1. of, relating to, or resembling vitriol.
  2. obtained from vitriol.
  3. very caustic; scathing: vitriolic criticism.
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Origin of vitriolic

First recorded in 1660–70; vitriol + -ic
Related formsnon·vit·ri·ol·ic, adjective


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3. bland, mild.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for vitriolic

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He let loose some vitriolic verbiage, using Drake as the objective-point.

    Garrison's Finish

    W. B. M. Ferguson

  • Even that place of security did not, however, save him from her vitriolic tongue.

    Mam' Lyddy's Recognition

    Thomas Nelson Page

  • But Casey got him outside and administered a vitriolic lecture that had some effect.

    Desert Conquest

    A. M. Chisholm

  • Proclamations blossomed on every tree, couched in vitriolic language.

    The Eternal Boy

    Owen Johnson

  • She was in one of her vitriolic moods now because of the Lusitania.

    The Cup of Fury

    Rupert Hughes

British Dictionary definitions for vitriolic


  1. (of a substance, esp a strong acid) highly corrosive
  2. severely bitter or caustic; virulentvitriolic criticism
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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 vitriolic


1660s, from French vitriolique (16c.) or from vitriol + -ic. Figurative use by 1841.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper