November 15, 2012
acerbic (adjective)
\uh-SER-bik\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: acid in temper, mood, or tone
How do you use it?
His acerbic comment about how much he hates playing sports took me by surprise since he is such a great athlete.
Are you a word wiz?

"Acerbic" comes from a family of words that has as an ancestor the Latin word "acer," meaning "sharp." Which of the words below do you think also comes from this family?

"Acerbic," "eager," and "exacerbate" all have ancestry in the Latin "acer." "Acerbic" derives from the French word "acerbe," meaning "acid or sour to the taste." The French took "acerbe" from the Latin "acerbus," meaning "harsh, bitter," which is akin to "acer." "Eager" also came into English by way of French. French-speakers of the Middle Ages borrowed "acer" as "aigre," which turned into "egre" then "eager" in English. "Exacerbate"" also traces its ancestry back to "acer." Like "acerbic," it came from "acer" through "acerbus," and means "to make more violent, bitter, or severe."
Archive RSS Feed