Wednesday Word: Acerbate

wednesday word

A few years ago my mum, Millie Thom, and I used to share a Word of the Week, an interesting word that we’d provide some information about and then use in a few sentences – or sometimes even in a little piece of flash fiction. Both of us have recently returned to a slightly more regular blogging schedule and have decided to revive our weekly word, though now it will be a Wednesday Word. We’ll be working through the alphabet, starting this week at A.


Part of Speech

Transitive verb

Third-person singular simple present: acerbates
Present participle: acerbating
Simple past and past participle: acerbated

Comparative: more acerbate
Superlative: most acerbate

Related Words

Acerbation (noun)
Acerbic (adjective)
Exacerbate (verb)


ac·er·bate / ˈa-sər-ˌbāt /ˈasəbeɪt /


Verb (with object)

  1. To embitter or exasperate
  2. To make sour or bitter


  1. (rare) Embittered; having a sour disposition or nature.

Word Origin


First recorded use as a verb – mid 17th century, in the writings of Nicholas Billingsley (bap. 1633, d. 1709), a religious poet and Presbyterian minister.

From classical Latin acerbāt-, past participial stem of acerbāre (to embitter), from acerbus (bitter).

First recorded use as an adjective – mid 19th century, in The Echo.

From classical Latin acerbātus, past participle of acerbāre (to embitter).



  1. aggravate, annoy, embitter, exasperate, disturb, perturb, provoke, rattle one’s cage
  2. sour, make bitter


  1. embittered

Use in a Sentence

Her father’s thoughtless comments were sure to acerbate the situation: the locals didn’t take well to people insulting their town, no matter how accurate those insults might be.

Eating bread always acerbates her IBS.

He couldn’t help himself – his favourite pastime was acerbating the old man’s temper.

The people’s anger was acerbated by the government’s inaction.

She always tried to conceal it when meeting people for the first time, but the truth was that old Mrs Ellery was the most acerbate of women, bitter and sour to the core.

wednesday word

If you would like to join in with this activity in any way, feel free to do so. You could either share a Wednesday Word of your own – this week beginning with the letter A – or you could use my word (or Millie’s) as inspiration for a post. This could be a piece of poetry, flash fiction, or any form of prose you choose. Just share a link in the comments so we can see what you’ve been up to!

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