MEANING: verb tr.: To irritate or to aggravate.

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin acerbus (bitter). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ak- (sharp), which is also the source of acrid, vinegar, acid, acute, edge, hammer, heaven, eager, oxygen, mediocre, paragon, acuity, and acidic. Earliest documented use: 1657.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY: It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. - Arthur Conan Doyle, physician and writer (22 May 1859-1930) (put into the mouth of Sherlock Holmes)


[I see several comments about why "acerbate" should mean the same thing (almost) as its apparent negation "exacerbate." Isn't there a usage of some prefixes as intensifiers, rather than negation? Think about "flammable" and inflammable."]

ACEREBATE - the hardware store is giving out refunds