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bitters

[bit-erz] /ˈbɪt ərz/
noun, (used with a plural verb)
1.
a liquid, often an alcoholic liquor, in which bitter herbs or roots have steeped, used as a flavoring, especially in mixed drinks, or as a tonic.
2.
Pharmacology.
  1. a liquid, usually alcoholic, impregnated with a bitter medicine, as gentian or quassia, used to increase the appetite or as a tonic.
  2. bitter medicinal substances in general, as quinine.
Origin
1705-1715
1705-15; bitter + -s3

bitter

[bit-er] /ˈbɪt ər/
adjective, bitterer, bitterest.
1.
having a harsh, disagreeably acrid taste, like that of aspirin, quinine, wormwood, or aloes.
2.
producing one of the four basic taste sensations; not sour, sweet, or salt.
3.
hard to bear; grievous; distressful:
a bitter sorrow.
4.
causing pain; piercing; stinging:
a bitter chill.
5.
characterized by intense antagonism or hostility:
bitter hatred.
6.
hard to admit or accept:
a bitter lesson.
7.
resentful or cynical:
bitter words.
noun
8.
that which is bitter; bitterness:
Learn to take the bitter with the sweet.
9.
British. a very dry ale having a strong taste of hops.
verb (used with object)
10.
to make bitter:
herbs employed to bitter vermouth.
adverb
11.
extremely; very; exceedingly:
a bitter cold night.
Origin
before 1000; Middle English, Old English biter; cognate with German bitter, Old Norse bitr, Gothic baitrs; akin to bite
Related forms
bitterish, adjective
bitterly, adverb
bitterness, noun
nonbitter, adjective
overbitter, adjective
overbitterly, adverb
overbitterness, noun
unbitter, adjective
Can be confused
bidder, bitter.
Synonyms
1. acrid, biting, distasteful. 3. distressing, poignant, painful. 4. biting, nipping. 5. fierce, cruel, ruthless, relentless. 7. acrimonious, caustic, sardonic, scornful.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for bitters
  • There is a night club on the premises, which serves many varieties of lagers and bitters.
  • It is made from bitters and herbs, and though it goes down relatively smooth, the aftertaste kicks and lingers.
  • Top with reserved vermouth, cherry juice and bitters.
  • Place your sugar cube in a chilled flute and soak it with a few dashes of bitters.
  • Garnish with a few dashes of bitters on top of the foam.
British Dictionary definitions for bitters

bitters

/ˈbɪtəz/
plural noun
1.
bitter-tasting spirits of varying alcoholic content flavoured with plant extracts
2.
a similar liquid containing a bitter-tasting substance, used as a tonic to stimulate the appetite or improve digestion

bitter

/ˈbɪtə/
adjective
1.
having or denoting an unpalatable harsh taste, as the peel of an orange or coffee dregs Compare sour (sense 1)
2.
showing or caused by strong unrelenting hostility or resentment: he was still bitter about the divorce
3.
difficult or unpleasant to accept or admit: a bitter blow
4.
cutting; sarcastic: bitter words
5.
bitingly cold: a bitter night
adverb
6.
very; extremely (esp in the phrase bitter cold)
noun
7.
a thing that is bitter
8.
(Brit) beer with a high hop content, with a slightly bitter taste
verb
9.
to make or become bitter
See also bitters
Derived Forms
bitterly, adverb
bitterness, noun
Word Origin
Old English biter; related to bītan to bite
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 bitters
n.

1713, from bitter. So called for its taste.

bitter

adj.

Old English biter "bitter, sharp, cutting; angry, embittered; cruel," from Proto-Germanic *bitras- (cf. Old Saxon bittar, Old Norse bitr, Dutch bitter, Old High German bittar, German bitter, Gothic baitrs "bitter"), from PIE root *bheid- "to split" (cf. Old English bitan "to bite;" see bite (v.)). Evidently the meaning drifted in prehistoric times from "biting, of pungent taste," to "acrid-tasting." Used figuratively in Old English of states of mind and words. Related: Bitterly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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bitters in the Bible

Bitterness is symbolical of affliction, misery, and servitude (Ex. 1:14; Ruth 1:20; Jer. 9:15). The Chaldeans are called the "bitter and hasty nation" (Hab. 1:6). The "gall of bitterness" expresses a state of great wickedness (Acts 8:23). A "root of bitterness" is a wicked person or a dangerous sin (Heb. 12:15). The Passover was to be eaten with "bitter herbs" (Ex. 12:8; Num. 9:11). The kind of herbs so designated is not known. Probably they were any bitter herbs obtainable at the place and time when the Passover was celebrated. They represented the severity of the servitude under which the people groaned; and have been regarded also as typical of the sufferings of Christ.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Idioms and Phrases with bitters
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Article for bitters

any of numerous aromatized and often alcoholic liquids containing bitter substances (chiefly alkaloids, glycosides, or complexes), used as tonics, liqueurs, appetizers, digestives, flavourings, and ingredients to add tang or smoothness to alcoholic drinks. Bitters are prepared according to secret recipes by several manufacturers using bitter herbs, leaves, fruits, seeds, or roots and sometimes alcohol or sugar. The taste is imparted by substances such as orange peel, gentian root, rhubarb root, hop flowers, quassia-wood chips, cascarilla, cinchona bark, and quinine. Aroma is provided by juniper, cinnamon, caraway, anise, nutmeg, camomile, cloves, and other flavouring agents. Bitters are usually named according to the ingredient giving the predominant flavour, such as orange bitters and peach bitters. The alcoholic strength varies but is generally about 40 percent by volume

Learn more about bitters with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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