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VITRIOLIC

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VITRIOLIC

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Mar 09, 2013 11:30 pm

• vitriolic •


Pronunciation: vi-tree-ah-lik • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. (Literally) Containing or similar to sulfuric acid or any of the metal sulfates. 2. (Figuratively) Extremely caustic, scathing, filled with rage and abasement, often accompanied by profanity.

Notes: Today's Good Word comes from the noun vitriol, which once was the name for metal sulfates including sulfuric (vitriolic) acid, hence the caustic flavor of its current meaning. To add sulfates to a compound is to vitriolate it. The spelling and pronunciation of this word are rather straightforward; just remember the accented O.

In Play: The recent political elections in the US saw far too many vitriolic attacks: "Highly vitriolic political attacks only inflame the debate over real issues and encourage violence." Perhaps politicians should remember that there is no problem that anger solves. But politics is not the only arena in which we find too much vitriol: "Jess Newcomb's vitriolic attack on his neighbor for playing loud music late at night was grossly disproportionate to the neighbor's misdeed."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Latin vitreolus "of glass, like glass, glassy", the adjective of vitrum "glass". So, how did we get from "glass" to "vitriolic", you may rightly wonder. For the answer to this question, we have to go back farther than glass. The original meaning of vitrum was "woad" (related to weed), a plant from which Romans derived blue dye. Since Roman glass had a bluish tint, the word for "woad", vitrum, gradually migrated to the meaning "glass". In the Germanic languages vitriol was borrowed to refer to acid, a glassy, transparent liquid so, initially, vitriol had an appropriate sense. However, since acid is also caustic, it is in that sense we use vitriolic today. (Today's Good Word comes to us under the auspices of Suzanne Russell, who joins us at alphaDictionary in wishing for a far less vitriolic political world in 2013.)
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Re: VITRIOLIC

Postby MTC » Sun Mar 10, 2013 11:04 am

Dr. G's transparent explanation has left me in a vitreous humor.
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Re: VITRIOLIC

Postby gailr » Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:48 pm

I can see your point.
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Re: VITRIOLIC

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:50 pm

As do I, the vitriole in the political arena is disheartening.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Re: VITRIOLIC

Postby Slava » Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:52 pm

The vitriol may well be disheartening, but at least they haven't joined the Russian Ballet, as yet.
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.
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Re: VITRIOLIC

Postby MTC » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:33 pm

Slava wrote:The vitriol may well be disheartening, but at least they haven't joined the Russian Ballet, as yet.


Vitriolic. The word fits events at the Bolshoi like a leotard. Good one!
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Re: VITRIOLIC

Postby Slava » Sun Mar 10, 2013 9:03 pm

Sadly, it was not metaphorical.
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