April 20, 2012
exacerbate (verb)
\ig-ZASS-er-bayt\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: to make more violent, bitter, or severe
How do you use it?
"It was plain that the Hufflepuffs felt that Harry had stolen their champion's glory; a feeling exacerbated, perhaps, by the fact that Hufflepuff House very rarely got any glory . . . ." (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
Are you a word wiz?

"Exacerbate" derives from the Latin root "acer." What do you think "acer" means?

If you were sharp enough to pick B, you picked the right answer. The Latin word "acer," meaning "sharp," is at the root of many English words. The words "acerbic" ("having a bitter temper or sour mood"), "acrid" ("having a sharp taste or odor"), and "acrimony" ("a harsh manner or disposition") are just a few examples. Our Buzzword, "exacerbate," derives from the prefix "ex-," which means "out of" or "outside," and "acerbus," a descendant of "acer" which means "harsh" or "bitter." Things that exacerbate can cause a situation to go from bad to worse. A pointed insult, for example, might exacerbate tensions between two enemies.
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