Meaning of mordant in English:


Pronunciation /ˈmɔːdnt/

See synonyms for mordant

Translate mordant into Spanish


  • (especially of humour) having or showing a sharp or critical quality; biting.

    ‘a mordant sense of humour’
    • ‘His songs are frequently grim, a catalogue of human misery shot through with mordant humour and flashes of spiritual or psychological calm.’
    • ‘There is an amount of mordant humour surrounding the shocking murders.’
    • ‘Still, the film is worth watching for its mordant humour and brutally honest view of addiction.’
    • ‘Both directors' films are shot through with a mordant humour which echoes the essential Dublin.’
    • ‘As a writer who is constantly described as a purveyor of mordant wit and dark humour in subjects such as death and alcoholism, you could say that stand-up was the natural stepping stone in communicating her thoughts.’
    • ‘His pessimism about human nature and emphasis on mordant criticism of failings among the clergy, however, were not typical of all humanists.’
    • ‘Tense, haunted and melancholy, the composer's dark vision was only relieved by a mordant strain of humour.’
    • ‘He remained committed to exploring his penchant for mordant wit, the celebration of the esoteric, the glorification of all things absurd.’
    • ‘You can hear the family influence: her brother's propensity for melodrama, mom's acute eye for telling lyrical detail, dad's mordant black humour, along with her own caustic imagery.’
    • ‘The first opera was written when the composer was twenty-five, and it has all the glinting lightness and mordant irreverence that his early works display.’
    • ‘There are many - too many - first-person accounts of illness but because she doesn't seek to entertain us we are spared the improbable levity and mordant wit that have become standard.’
    • ‘Chance, luck, mobility and enterprise characterise the larger narrative as well as the individual stories in this inimitable bricolage of reflection, jokes and mordant ironies.’
    • ‘The book, by being both depressing and exhilarating gave mordant insight into the Edinburgh housing projects where the writer grew up.’
    • ‘Although somewhat bleak, it is a graceful affair, lovingly crafted, deeply felt, and spiked with mordant cleverness.’
    • ‘There are flashes of her old, mordant wit, but with very few exceptions, little of the lives or personalities of her protagonists is given room to come alive and breathe.’
    • ‘With remarkable economy, he condenses these depressing proceedings into a short, mordant drama about the ruthless crushing of a brilliant spirit.’
    • ‘Aron had become rather mordant, and she thought it essential that he gain some cheer before the long walk home.’
    • ‘Though they total no more than about 35,000 words, his 12 mordant tales are little aerial masterpieces about social change, aging and divorce.’
    caustic, trenchant, biting, cutting, acerbic, sardonic, sarcastic, scathing, acid, sharp, keen, tart, pungent, stinging, astringent, incisive, devastating, piercing, rapier-like, razor-edged
    View synonyms


  • 1A substance, typically an inorganic oxide, that combines with a dye or stain and thereby fixes it in a material.

    ‘In order to get the color to stick well on the fiber, the wool was usually pretreated with a metal compound called a mordant; common mordants, still used in craft dying, are compounds of aluminum, iron, copper, tin, and chromium.’
    • ‘The application by hand of various mordants was part of a complex process of dyeing, applying and clearing resists, washing, and bleaching.’
    • ‘Wearden's text gives good, clear explanations and descriptions of the various weaving techniques, not just pile but also flat woven, and discusses dyes, mordants and related matters.’
    • ‘Have you actually got round the obstacle of using heavy metal mordants to actually make the dye set?’
    • ‘In this technique, color fixatives called mordants were hand painted on the surface prior to dyeing with chay, which was derived from the root of an East Indian herb.’
    • ‘Alum has also been long used as a mordant in dyeing.’
    • ‘They were also more convenient to use because no mordant was required to set the color on wool or silk, although a mordant was still required when dyeing cotton.’
    1. 1.1An adhesive compound for fixing gold leaf.
      ‘Gold leaf is too delicate to be laid directly on the relatively rough surface of plaster and so the gold leaf is backed with thicker and more robust tin foil using an oil mordant as the adhesive.’
      • ‘At the appropriate moment, while the mordant was still tacky, scraps of gold leaf were laid over the area of decoration, the gold adhering to the lines of mordant but not to the dry paint beneath.’
  • 2A corrosive liquid used to etch the lines on a printing plate.

    • ‘Oil mordants from early in the century tend to produce distinctly raised lines.’


[with object]
  • Impregnate or treat (a fabric) with a mordant.

    ‘mordanting a fibre is simple’
    • ‘mordanted wool’
    • ‘The yarn would usually be mordanted with oxalic acid from wood sorrel, iron, or even an alkaline solution made from stale urine.’
    • ‘The first dye is crystal violet, which is fixed or mordanted in Gram positive bacteria by iodine.’


Late 15th century from French, present participle of mordre ‘to bite’, from Latin mordere.