• WordNet 3.6
    • adj caustic of a substance, especially a strong acid; capable of destroying or eating away by chemical action
    • adj caustic harsh or corrosive in tone "an acerbic tone piercing otherwise flowery prose","a barrage of acid comments","her acrid remarks make her many enemies","bitter words","blistering criticism","caustic jokes about political assassination, talk-show hosts and medical ethics","a sulfurous denunciation","a vitriolic critique"
    • n caustic any chemical substance that burns or destroys living tissue
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Caustic (Optics) A caustic curve or caustic surface.
    • Caustic Any substance or means which, applied to animal or other organic tissue, burns, corrodes, or destroys it by chemical action; an escharotic.
    • Caustic Capable of destroying the texture of anything or eating away its substance by chemical action; burning; corrosive; searing.
    • Caustic Severe; satirical; sharp; as, a caustic remark.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • caustic Capable of burning, corroding, or destroying the tissue of animal substances. See causticity.
    • caustic Figuratively, severely critical or sarcastic; cutting: as, a caustic remark.
    • caustic The curved surface to which all the rays of a conical pencil of light entering a refractive medium are tangential.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • adj Caustic kaws′tik burning: :
    • n Caustic a substance that exerts a corroding or disintegrating action on the skin and flesh
    • adj Caustic kaws′tik (fig.) bitter, severe, cutting
    • adj Caustic kaws′tik (math.) noting an envelope of rays of light proceeding from a fixed point and reflected (catacaustic) or refracted (diacaustic) by a surface or a curve
    • ***


  • George Eliot
    “Play not with paradoxes. That caustic which you handle in order to scorch others may happen to sear your own fingers and make them dead to the quality of things.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
L. causticum,sc. medicamentum,). See Caustic (a.)
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
L.,—Gr. kaustikoskai-ein, kaus-ein, to burn.


In literature:

The smarting pain induced by the caustic was severe for a time but gradually subsided.
"An Essay on the Application of the Lunar Caustic in the Cure of Certain Wounds and Ulcers" by John Higginbottom
He has been a kindly cauteriser of social sores; caustic, but rarely vindictive.
"The History of "Punch"" by M. H. Spielmann
Caustic Soda solution (SG 1.2).
"Vegetable Dyes" by Ethel M. Mairet
Caustic alkalies have a most destructive effect on wool as they eat into it and destroy its vitality.
"Textiles" by William H. Dooley
Five A looked glum as they read their marks and the somewhat caustic comments written in their exercise books.
"Judy of York Hill" by Ethel Hume Patterson Bennett
The match smell had given way to the harsh, caustic stench of burning weeds.
"The Coffin Cure" by Alan Edward Nourse
Gregor Lang, who was the Marquis's most caustic critic, was Roosevelt's warm friend.
"Roosevelt in the Bad Lands" by Hermann Hagedorn
Alan and the two girls allowed Peet's caustic remarks to pass without reply.
"Chatterbox, 1906" by Various
It withers away to nothing before the caustic verdict of modern science and logic.
"Christianity As A Mystical Fact" by Rudolf Steiner
With the sauce for the game, Mrs. Turner mixed a quantity of cantharides, and poisoned the pork with lunar-caustic.
"Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" by Charles Mackay

In poetry:

Tonight the caustic wind, love,
Gossips late and soon,
And I wear the wry-faced pucker of
The sour lemon moon.
"Jilted" by Sylvia Plath
Matrons love thy household lore;
Public seems to pet thee;
Critic, with his caustic store,
Seeketh not to fret thee.
"A Parody On "The Wayside Well"" by Janet Hamilton
And cracking frieze and rotten metope
Express, as though they were an open tome
Top-lined with caustic monitory gnome;
"Dunces, Learn here to spell Humanity!"
"Rome: Building A New Street In The Ancient Quarter." by Thomas Hardy
Then, drop by caustic drop, a perfect cry
Shall string some constant harmony,—
Relentless caper for all those who step
The legend of their youth into the noon.
"Legend" by Harold Hart Crane
O eloquent and caustic sage!
Thy long and rugged pilgrimage
To glory's shrine has ended;
And thou hast passed the inner door,
And proved thy fitness o'er and o'er,
And to the dome ascended.
"Frederick Douglass" by Joseph Seamon Cotter Sr
And still he is a gentleman;
This much I will admit.
In "Correspondence Columns" he
Seeks not to air his wit;
On shrinking backs he lays no caustic stripe,
Nor stoops to call our Masterpieces "tripe"!
"The Censor" by C J Dennis

In news:

Its function is to extract mercaptan in LPG with a caustic, but during annual shut-down it is shown that the top trays are damaged.
After 20 years, Doug Stanhope has built a reputation as one of the most caustic and hilarious standup comedians to ever take the stage.
Despite rave reviews for Alan Rickman and the cast of Theresa Rebeck's caustic comedy of literature and sex, Seminar, the Broadway show shuttered last Sunday in a whimper, not a bang.
LOS ANGELES — Imagination Technologies ( has introduced the Caustic Visualizer viewport plug-in for Autodesk Maya 2013.
China's Xinjiang Huatai shuts PVC, caustic soda plants after fire.
China's Yunnan Tiannanye Chem builds PVC, caustic soda plants.
The chairman of the IASC shares some caustic comments on stock options, corporate boards, and the relative merits of GAAP.
The caustic environment of the soda lake and isolation of the islands allows the birds to breed without interference from predators.
This all natural odor controller contains no corrosive, volatile, dangerous, caustic or flammable elements and is safe to be used around people, pets and plants.
Threshold) value, usually below the yield stress of the material and in the presence of a corrosive environment that includes sulfides, chlorides, caustics and hydrogen.
Caustic Crusader at Center of F.D.A.
In one of the more sublimely caustic stories in Katchor's brilliant, darkly magical new collection, a suburban house attracts the attention of an architecture critic who loves how the roof reforms itself to match the shape of the master bed.
We renamed a maiden aunt Grumpy Mae because she was so caustic.
Erie County Sheriff's deputies and hazmat officials responded to the plant, which shut down just before 3 pm for a caustic spill.

In science:

The same conclusions follow from a more complicated argument based on caustics in Blandford & Kovner (1988).
Beware the Non-uniqueness of Einstein Rings
On the left (between 0 and π ), the caustics (thick lines) given by formula (7) reproduce the “chevrons”.
Out-of-equilibrium states as statistical equilibria of an effective dynamics
If the initial velocity dispersion is small, singularities appear in the density profile which becomes infinite along the envelope (or caustics) of the tra jectories; the chevrons of Fig. 1 are a manifestation of these singularities .
Out-of-equilibrium states as statistical equilibria of an effective dynamics
Instead, it was suggested that branches may arise from caustics in the classical flow.
Statistics of branched flow in a weak correlated random potential
For example, similar effects of caustics have been discussed recently in the context of long-range sound propagation through the ocean .
Statistics of branched flow in a weak correlated random potential