Word of The Day for Tuesday, March 15, 2011


a•sper•i•ty (uh-SPER-i-tee)  n

1. moral roughness; roughness of tone, temper or manner; severity;  harshness 
2. sharpness; disagreeableness; difficulty
3. roughness of surface; unevenness
4. roughness or harshness of sound; that quality which grates upon the ear; raucity
5. roughness to the taste; sourness; tartness

early 13c., asprete "harshness of feelings," a figurative use, from O.Fr. asperete (12c., Mod.Fr. âpreté), from L. asperitatem (nom. asperitas) "roughness," from asper "rough, harsh," of unknown origin; in Latin used also of sour wine, bad weather, and hard times

Synonyms: harshness, acerbity, acrimony, bitterness, churlishness, crabbiness, crossness, difficulty, disagreeableness, irascibility, irritability, meanness, roughness, sharpness, sourness, tartness, astringency
Related Words: exasperate, asperate

Sentence Examples:
• A day or two after we reached St. Louis, I was walking along Fourth Street when a grizzly-headed man gave a sort of start as he passed me, then stopped, came back, inspected me narrowly, with a clouding brow, and finally said with deep asperity— 'Look here, HAVE YOU GOT THAT DRINK YET?' -Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain

• "The train of reasoning is not very obscure, Watson," said Holmes with a mischievous twinkle. "It belongs to the same elementary class of deduction which I should illustrate if I were to ask you who shared your cab in your drive this morning."
"I don't admit that a fresh illustration is an explanation," said I with some asperity.
-The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax, Arthur Conan Doyle

• It was before the Gaelic movement, and before we had such things as “intellectuals” and the “economic man,” or even the Irish Literary Theatre. Leamy’s gentle and loyal soul could have taken no influence from the asperity of some of the intervening ferment, “Parliamentarian” though he was.  -Irish Fairy Tales, Edmond Leamy

Sources: HyperDictionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

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