bitters








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.

adjective, bit·ter·er, bit·ter·est.

  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

  1. that which is bitter; bitterness: Learn to take the bitter with the sweet.
  2. British. a very dry ale having a strong taste of hops.

verb (used with object)

  1. to make bitter: herbs employed to bitter vermouth.

adverb

  1. extremely; very; exceedingly: a bitter cold night.

pl n

  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

adjective

  1. having or denoting an unpalatable harsh taste, as the peel of an orange or coffee dregsCompare sour (def. 1)
  2. showing or caused by strong unrelenting hostility or resentmenthe was still bitter about the divorce
  3. difficult or unpleasant to accept or admita bitter blow
  4. cutting; sarcasticbitter words
  5. bitingly colda bitter night

adverb

  1. very; extremely (esp in the phrase bitter cold)

noun

  1. a thing that is bitter
  2. British beer with a high hop content, with a slightly bitter taste

verb

  1. to make or become bitter
n.

1713, from bitter. So called for its taste.

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.

In addition to the idioms beginning with bitter

  • bitter end
  • bitter pill to swallow

also see:

  • take the bitter with the sweet

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