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used in a sentence
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Definition clever or funny, but also harsh or cruel

More rarely, acerbic can refer to a "sour or bitter in taste".
  • I appreciate her fine mind, but find her humor a bit acerbic.
acerbic = sour; or harsh
  • an acerbic tone piercing otherwise flowery prose
  • One is reminded of Montaigne's acerbic comment: "Men under stress are fools, and fool themselves."
    Michael Crichton  --  The Andromeda Strain
  • acerbic = harsh
  • Finally, the intercom crackles and Haymitch's acerbic laugh fills the studio.
    Suzanne Collins  --  Mockingjay
  • acerbic = sour; or harsh
  • "Not quite, esteemed prince," replied Lebedeff, with some acerbity.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky  --  The Idiot
  • Mr. Fleming proves to be loud and acerbic and sometimes coyly wiseguyish.
    Ron Suskind  --  A Hope in the Unseen
  • "Thanks so much," I said, my voice acerbic.
    Stephenie Meyer  --  Twilight
  • "You cannot win," Matthias said finally, and Jace laughed, that sharp acerbic laugh Clary had first fallen in love with.
    Cassandra Clare  --  City of Heavenly Fire
  • It is serious, but free from acerbity.
    Herman Melville  --  Billy Budd
  • As I say this I realize the acerbity of the words but somehow don't regret them.
    William Styron  --  Sophie's Choice
  • Mallinson, who had been somberly enduring these pleasantries, now interposed with something of the shrill acerbity of the barrack square.
    James Hilton  --  Lost Horizon
  • Eddis had heard several people, out of the Thief's hearing, lamenting the loss of his acerbic comments on the court but found that she missed his grin more.
    Megan Whalen Turner  --  Queen of Attolia
  • Dapper, cultivated, and acerbic, a leather briefcase tucked under his arm, he is a familiar figure on Broadway as the theater critic for New York magazine.
    Robert MacNeil and William Crane  --  Do You Speak American?
  • It was quite otherwise with Hepzibah; the Judge's smile seemed to operate on her acerbity of heart like sunshine upon vinegar, making it ten times sourer than ever.
    Nathaniel Hawthorne  --  The House of the Seven Gables
  • Dr. Randolph Gates found a relentless wave on which to ride, a mellifluous voice with which to speak, and a growing acerbic vocabulary to match the dawning new era.
    Robert Ludlum  --  The Bourne Ultimatum
  • He saw the two pictures together with somewhat the same primitive exaltation—two games he had played, differing in quality of acerbity, linked in a way that differed them from Rosalind or the subject of labyrinths which were, after all, the business of life.
    F. Scott Fitzgerald  --  This Side of Paradise
  • There was enough acerbity and sarcasm not only in the matter of Ralph's speech, but in the tone of voice in which he uttered it, and the looks with which he eked it out, to have fired even the ancient usurer's cold blood and flushed even his withered cheek.
    Charles Dickens  --  Nicholas Nickleby
  • Though the sea was like a washboard, and progress upon it was both nauseating and cold, the acerbic smoke from the engines of the cattle boat was slicked back from the funnel like the hair of a pilot in an open cockpit, and it no longer tangled over the decks in crosswinds, tormenting the condemned and their captors alike.
    Mark Helprin  --  A Soldier of the Great War
  • Olmsted had a reputation for brilliance and tireless devotion to his work—but also for an acerbic candor that emerged most predictably in the presence of men who failed to understand that what he sought to create were not flower beds and ornamental gardens but expanses of scenery full of mystery, shadow, and sun-stippled ground.
    Erik Larson  --  The Devil in the White City
  • Whenever he is heard advancing, they both make some little decorative preparation to receive him; at other times they divide their watches into short scraps of oblivion and dialogues not wholly free from acerbity, as to whether Miss Dedlock, sitting with her feet upon the fender, was or was not falling into the fire when rescued (to her great displeasure) by her guardian genius the maid.
    Charles Dickens  --  Bleak House

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