"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[uh-sur-bik] /əˈsɜr bɪk/
sour or astringent in taste:
Lemon juice is acerbic.
harsh or severe, as of temper or expression:
acerbic criticism.
Origin of acerbic
1860-65; < Latin acerb(us) sour, unripe, bitterly harsh + -ic, irregular for -ous
Related forms
acerbically, adverb
unacerbic, adjective
unacerbically, adverb
Can be confused
acerbic, acid, acrid. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for acerbic
  • Again, for all the acerbic social messages, there exists a psychological economy that is particularly American.
  • Correcting someone's grammar, or making acerbic jokes, can have consequences.
  • For sharp characterization and wry, generally acerbic comments on relationships, Shapiro outclasses most of her peers.
  • It is deftly written with occasional flashes of acerbic wit.
  • If you want sympathy, as you say, you make it difficult by being so acerbic.
  • Gates's acerbic, down-to-earth journal entries do an excellent job of conveying their shape and texture.
  • You're acerbic, outspoken, but fiercely loyal.
  • He was feared for his acerbic tongue and unflinching refusal to compromise.
  • Harrison enlivens this very basic thriller premise with some acerbic portraits of the people involved in the scam.
  • The remaining seven stories are equally edgy, acerbic and unsparing.
British Dictionary definitions for acerbic


harsh, bitter, or astringent; sour
Word Origin
C17: from Latin acerbus sour, bitter
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 acerbic

1865, originally, and usually, figurative: "sour, harsh, severe" (of speech, manners, etc.), from Latin acerbus "harsh to the taste, sharp, bitter, sour" (see acerbity) + -ic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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