Meaning of BITTER in English


I. bit ‧ ter 1 S3 W3 /ˈbɪtə $ -ər/ BrE AmE adjective

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: biter ]

1 . feeling angry, jealous, and upset because you think you have been treated unfairly ⇨ bitterly

bitter about

I feel very bitter about it.

a bitter old man

2 . [only before noun] making you feel very unhappy and upset ⇨ bitterly

a bitter disappointment/blow

If he failed, it would be a bitter disappointment to his parents.

His photo stirred up bitter memories.

from bitter experience (=because of your own very unpleasant experiences)

She knew from bitter experience that it would be impossible to talk it over with Julian.

3 . a bitter argument, battle etc is one in which people oppose or criticize each other with strong feelings of hate and anger

bitter dispute/battle/struggle etc

The couple are locked in a bitter battle for custody of the children.

The government faces bitter opposition to these policies.

The countries are still bitter enemies.

4 . having a strong sharp taste, like black coffee without sugar ⇨ sour, sweet :

Enjoy the beer’s bitter taste as you slowly drink it.

bitter chocolate

5 . unpleasantly cold ⇨ bitterly :

a bitter wind

the bitter cold of the Midwestern winters

6 . to the bitter end continuing until the end, even though this is difficult:

Employees have vowed to fight the closure to the bitter end.

7 . a bitter pill (to swallow) something very unpleasant that you must accept:

The knowledge that his friends no longer trusted him was a bitter pill to swallow.

—bitterness noun [uncountable]

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COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 3)

■ nouns

▪ a bitter battle/dispute

There was a bitter battle over the building of the new airport.

▪ a bitter fight/struggle

The law was passed after a bitter fight that lasted nearly a decade.

▪ a bitter conflict

The stage is set for a bitter conflict with trade unions.

▪ a bitter debate/argument

The country now faces a bitter debate over the issue.

▪ bitter disagreement

There were reports of bitter disagreement between the European Communities.

▪ bitter opposition

The new tax aroused bitter opposition.

▪ a bitter rival/enemy (=a rival/enemy who you have strong feelings of dislike or anger about)

The two men are bitter rivals for the party leadership.

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▪ bitter having a strong sharp taste that is not sweet, like black coffee without sugar - used especially about chocolate, medicine etc:

The dessert is made with a slightly bitter chocolate.


Hops give beer its distinctive bitter taste.


The medicine tasted bitter.


As the lettuce gets older, the leaves become more bitter.

▪ sharp having a taste that makes your tongue sting slightly:

Rhubarb has quite a sharp taste.


The cheese has a pleasing colour and a pleasantly sharp flavour.

▪ sour having a usually unpleasant sharp acid taste, like the taste of a lemon, or a fruit that is not ready to be eaten – used especially about fruit, or about liquids that have gone bad:

Some people say that the purpose of the lemon’s sour taste is to stop the fruit being eaten by animals.


Rachel sampled the wine. It was sour.

▪ acidic very sour – used especially about liquids or things made with fruits such as oranges, lemons, or grapes:

Some fruit juices taste a bit acidic.

▪ tangy having a taste that is pleasantly strong or sharp, and that often tastes a little sweet as well:

The ribs are cooked in a tangy barbecue sauce.

▪ tart having a taste that lacks sweetness – used especially about fruit such as apples, which you need to add sugar to:

The pudding had rather a tart flavour.


The trees were covered with tart wild plums.

II. bitter 2 BrE AmE noun

1 . [uncountable and countable] British English a type of dark beer that is popular in Britain, or a glass of this:

A pint of bitter, please.

2 . bitters [uncountable] a strong bitter liquid made from plants that is added to alcoholic drinks

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.