Alphadictionary.com

Our Sponsors

Technical Translation
Website Translation Clip Art
 

ACERBIC

Use this forum to discuss past Good Words.

ACERBIC

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Aug 06, 2007 10:09 pm

• acerbic •

Pronunciation: ê-sêr-bik • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Sarcastic, slightly caustic, (figuratively) sharp, cutting or biting as acerbic humor.

Notes: Today's Good Word belongs to a large family of words borrowed from Latin (see Word History). The verb in this particular family is acerbate "to sour or embitter" which, of course, relates it to exacerbate whose meaning has slightly shifted. The noun is acerbity [êsêr-bê-tee], which can also refer to literal sourness, as the acerbity of a pickle.

In Play: Acerbic usually describes a source of psychological pain to someone, which is why biting and cutting are near synonyms: "One pleasant aspect of the early stages of a US political campaign is that the speeches are not at all as acerbic as they will become months later." Acerbity is often humorous, however: "Michael Moore's acerbic documentaries on the institutions of the US do not please

Word History: Today's Good Word came to us via French from Latin acerbus "bitter, tart" from acer "sharp", which also went into the making of the Latin word on which English acrimonious is based. The original root here is Proto-Indo-European ak- "sharp, pointed". Latin acus "needle", which underlies English borrowings like acumen, acuity and acid, also came from this root. We see the same root in Greek akone "whetstone", a tool for sharpening things. In Old English it became agen "ear (of grain)", which died along the way to Modern English. In Old Norse, however, it became eggja "to goad, encourage", something a good point can do. English borrowed this word during the Viking invasions of the 9th-10th centuries as the verb egg as in 'to egg someone on'. (We are thankful for the absence of any acerbity in Susan Lister's suggestion that we run this very Good Word.)
• The Good Dr. Goodword
User avatar
Dr. Goodword
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3517
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:28 am
Location: Lewisburg, PA

Postby bnjtokyo » Tue Aug 07, 2007 2:30 am

It appears that PIE ak and Latin acus underlie French "aiguille," the first syllable of which is pronounced similarly to "egg" in English.

The following link will get you to a classic photo of a
Chamonix aiguille
bnjtokyo
bnjtokyo
Lexiterian
 
Posts: 330
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2005 4:11 am
Location: Tokyo

Postby Bailey » Tue Aug 07, 2007 8:01 am

ah, another one of my favorite words. I use it a lot.

mark much-like-a-lemon Bailey

Today is the first day of the rest of your life, Make the most of it...
kb








Bailey
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 2114
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 7:51 pm

Postby Perry » Tue Aug 07, 2007 9:58 am

bnjtokyo wrote:It appears that PIE ak and Latin acus underlie French "aiguille," the first syllable of which is pronounced similarly to "egg" in English.

The following link will get you to a classic photo of a
Chamonix aiguille


Is that you on the left, or on the right? :lol:
"Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening all at once. Lately it hasn't been working."
Anonymous
User avatar
Perry
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 2306
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 9:50 am
Location: Asheville, NC

Postby skinem » Tue Aug 07, 2007 1:01 pm

Someone described my humor as acerbic the other day. No argument from me. (Well, maybe a little. I would describe it as dark. No, warped.)

I told them they got lucky and chose the right word...
User avatar
skinem
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1197
Joined: Thu Apr 27, 2006 4:33 pm
Location: Middle Tennessee

Postby gailr » Tue Aug 07, 2007 8:13 pm

bnjtokyo wrote:It appears that PIE ak and Latin acus underlie French "aiguille," the first syllable of which is pronounced similarly to "egg" in English.

This sparked a mental link to aiglett, so handy for Ren-weare, and reduced further to aglet, for the lacing of yer sneaks.

-gailr
User avatar
gailr
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1945
Joined: Tue Mar 15, 2005 11:40 am

Postby gailr » Tue Aug 07, 2007 8:15 pm

skinem wrote:Someone described my humor as acerbic the other day.

Because you're so sharp.
User avatar
gailr
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1945
Joined: Tue Mar 15, 2005 11:40 am


Return to Good Word Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: gkovac, Google [Bot] and 8 guests