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[mawr-dnt] /ˈmɔr dnt/
sharply caustic or sarcastic, as wit or a speaker; biting.
burning; corrosive.
having the property of fixing colors, as in dyeing.
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.
an adhesive substance for binding gold or silver leaf to a surface.
an acid or other corrosive substance used in etching to eat out the lines, areas, etc.
Music. mordent.
verb (used with object)
to impregnate or treat with a mordant.
Origin of mordant
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English < Middle French, present participle of mordre to bite ≪ Latin mordēre; see -ant
Related forms
mordantly, adverb
unmordant, adjective
unmordantly, adverb
1. cutting, stinging, acerbic, scathing. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for mordant
  • Fluid, mordant tales of articulate characters in crisis.
  • He showed himself a mordant editorialist with far-reaching influence.
  • But they are none the less mordant in their manners and handy with switch-blade knives.
  • The difference being you are so prone to launch unnecessary attacks or mordant quips unprovoked.
  • It presents a half-century of tragedy and turmoil as a series of mordant comic vignettes.
  • His experience shows in his sleek storytelling and mordant style, and in his actors' ideal deadpan performances.
  • These were defense lawyers, a mordant and heroic caste.
  • Founder of a website that changes minds about the environment with mordant wit instead of earnest gloom.
  • It was bleak and filled with mordant humor, but reviewers didn't think much of it.
  • And this is the baleful irony which the drama effectively conveys in a long, methodical and mordant crime-and-punishment account.
British Dictionary definitions for mordant


sarcastic or caustic
having the properties of a mordant
a substance used before the application of a dye, possessing the ability to fix colours in textiles, leather, etc See also lake2 (sense 1)
an acid or other corrosive fluid used to etch lines on a printing plate
(transitive) to treat (a fabric, yarn, etc) with a mordant
Derived Forms
mordancy, noun
mordantly, adverb
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for mordant

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
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mordant in Medicine

mordant mor·dant (môr'dnt)
Serving to fix colors in dyeing. n.
A reagent, such as tannic acid, that fixes dyes to cells, tissues, or other materials. v. mor·dant·ed, mor·dant·ing, mor·dants
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.
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