Vitriolic refers to a speech, written work, or attitude that is filled with criticism, anger, or malice. It is characterized by bitter and cutting language.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



Bitter, acrimonious, caustic, cutting, harsh, sarcastic, scathing, spiteful


Affable, amiable, cordial, genial, gentle, kind, pleasant, polite

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun vitriol, vitriols
Verb vitrioled, vitrioling, vitriols, vitriol
Adjective vitriolic
Adverb vitriolically

Example Sentences

  • In a vitriolic rant, the politician launched a scathing attack on his opponents, hurling insults and accusations, igniting a fierce and divisive debate that further polarized the nation and undermined the spirit of unity.

  • The politician’s vitriolic speech left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth.

  • The film critic’s vitriolic review of the new movie caused a lot of controversy.

  • Her vitriolic comments left a trail of bitterness and resentment in their wake.


The word “vitriolic” is often used to describe language or behavior that is overly harsh or critical. It is typically associated with anger, bitterness, and malice. The term comes from the word “vitriol,” which is a type of highly corrosive substance. In this sense, vitriolic language can be seen as corrosive or destructive, as it can cause harm to those who are targeted by it.

Vitriolic language is often used in the context of political or social criticism, as well as in personal relationships. When someone is described as “vitriolic,” it suggests that they are prone to making cutting and harsh remarks that can be hurtful to others. This can also imply that the person is angry, bitter, or resentful.

The prefix “vitr-” comes from the Latin word “vitrum,” which means “glass.” This is because vitriol was often used to make glass in ancient times. The suffix “-ic” is used to indicate that something is related to or characterized by the root word. Therefore, vitriolic language can be thought of as “glass-like” or “corrosive.”

In some contexts, the word “vitriolic” can be used in a positive sense. For example, a person might use vitriolic language to express their passion for a particular cause or to motivate others to take action. However, in most cases, the term is used to describe language or behavior that is negative, critical, or hurtful.