Lewis & Short

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ăcerbus, a, um, adj. [fr. 2. acer, like superbus fr. super, yet the short ă should be noticed], harsh to the taste, of every object which has an astringent effect upon the tongue (opp. suavis, Lucr. 4, 661 sq.).

  1. I. Prop.: Neptuni corpus acerbum, bitter, briny, Lucr. 2, 472; and esp. of unripe fruit, sharp, sour, harsh, and the like: uva primo est peracerba gustatu, deinde maturata dulcescit, Cic. de Sen. 15: saporum genera tredecim reperiuntur: acer, acutus, acerbus, acidus, salsus, etc., Plin. 15, 27, 32; and since the harshness of fruit is always a sign of immaturity, so Varro, Cicero, Pliny, et al. use acerbus as a syn. for crudus, immaturus, unripe, crude, lit. and trop.: nondum matura uva est, nolo acerbam sumere, Phaed. 4, 2, 4; so Ov. Am. 2, 14, 24; and trop.: impolitae res et acerbae si erunt relictae, Cic. Prov. Cons. 14; cf. Gell. 13, 2.
    Hence: virgo acerba, not yet marriageable, Varr. ap. Non. 247, 15; and esp. poet. (opp. to virgo matura, v. maturus): funus acerbum, as a translation of the Gr. θάϝατος ἄωρος (Eur. Orest. 1030), Auct. Or. pro Dom. 16: ante diem edere partus acerbos, premature, Ov. F. 4, 647.
    1. B. Transf.
          1. (α) to sounds, harsh, hoarse, rough, shrill: serrae stridentis acerbum horrorem, Lucr, 2, 410: vox acerbissima, Auct. Her. 4, 47;
          2. (β) to feeling, sharp, keen: frigus, bitter, Hor. Ep. 1, 17, 53.
  2. II. Fig.
    1. A. Of men: Rough, coarse, repulsive, morose, violent, hard, rigorous, severe: melius de quibusdam acerbos inimicos mereri quam eos amicos, qui dulces videantur, Cic. Lael. 24: posse enim asotos ex Aristippi, acerbos e Zenonis schola exire, for there may go forth sensualists from the school of Aristippus, crabbed fellows from that of Zeno, id. N. D. 3, 31 (cf. acriculus): acerbissimi feneratores, id. Att. 6, 1; so of adversaries or enemies, violent, furious, bitter, Cic. Fam. 1, 4: acerbissimus hostis, id. Cat. 4, 6 fin.; so id. Fam. 3, 8: acerbus odisti, Hor. S. 1, 3, 85 K. & H.: quid messes uris acerba tuas? Tib. 1, 2, 98 al.
    2. B. Of things, harsh, heavy, disagreeable, grievous, troublesome, bitter, sad (very often, esp. in Cic.): ut acerbum est, pro benefactis cum mali messem metas! Plaut. Ep. 5, 2, 52; cf. Ter. Hec. 3, 1, 1; Att. ap. Non. 72, 29: in rebus acerbis, Lucr. 3, 54: acerbissimum supplicium, Cic. Cat. 4, 6: acerbissima vexatio, id. ib. 4, 1: acerba memoria temporis, id. Planc. 41: acerbissimā morte affectus, Serv. ap. Cic. Fam. 4, 12, 2 al.
      Hence acerbum funus (diff. from above), a bitter, painful death, Plaut. Am. 1, 1, 35: acerbum funus filiae, id. As. 3, 3, 5, and so Nep. Cim. 4: vita ejus fuit secura et mors acerba, afflicting, painful, unwelcome.
      In the neutr. subst.: ăcer-bum, i, calamity, misfortune, Ov. Tr. 5, 2, 21; Verg. A. 12, 500acerba, n. plur. adv. acc. to the Gr. idiom, Lucr. 5, 34 (cf. acuta et al.), several times imitated by Verg. A. 12, 398; 9, 794; id. G. 3, 149.
      Adv.: ăcerbe, harshly, sharply, severely, etc., in the trop. signif. of the adj., Cic. Fam. 1, 5; id. N. D. 2, 33; id. Planc. 1: idem acerbe severus in filium, id. Off. 3, 31, 112; Liv. 3, 50. 12; 7, 3, 9; Tac. A. 2, 87 al.
      Comp., Cic. Lael. 16; Suet. Tib. 25.
      Sup., Cic. Att. 11, 1; Caes. B. C. 1, 2; also Cic. Planc. 35, 86, where, of an exclamation of severe grief, acerbissime for acerrime is defended against Lambinus and Ernesti by Wunder, Planc. l. c. p. 217; so B. & K.