• WordNet 3.6
    • adj mordant of a substance, especially a strong acid; capable of destroying or eating away by chemical action
    • adj mordant harshly ironic or sinister "black humor","a grim joke","grim laughter","fun ranging from slapstick clowning ... to savage mordant wit"
    • n mordant a substance used to treat leather or other materials before dyeing; aids in dyeing process
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Mordant Any corroding substance used in etching.
    • Mordant (Gilding) Any sticky matter by which the gold leaf is made to adhere.
    • Mordant (Dyeing & Calico Printing) Any substance, as alum or copperas, which, having a twofold attraction for organic fibers and coloring matter, serves as a bond of union, and thus gives fixity to, or bites in, the dyes.
    • Mordant Biting; caustic; sarcastic; keen; severe.
    • Mordant (Dyeing & Calico Printing) Serving to fix colors.
    • v. t Mordant To subject to the action of, or imbue with, a mordant; as, to mordant goods for dyeing.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • mordant Biting; keen; caustic; sarcastic; severe.
    • mordant Having the property of fixing colors.
    • n mordant A metal chape covering one end of a strap or belt, especially if so arranged as to hook into a clasp on the other end to facilitate securing the belt round the person. The mordant often forms with the belt-plate a single design, the decorated front being either as large as the plate or of such shape as to combine with it to form a circular or other regular figure. Also mourdant.
    • n mordant In the fine arts: Any corrosive liquid. such as aqua fortis, which will eat into a metallic or other surface when applied to it in the process of etching. See etching.
    • mordant To imbue or treat with a mordant.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • adj Mordant biting, sarcastic, severe: serving to fix colours
    • ***


  • James Russell Lowell
    “The only faith that wears well and holds its color in all weathers is that which is woven of conviction and set with the sharp mordant of experience.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
F., p. pr. of mordere, to bite; L. mordere,. See Morsel
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Fr.,—L. mordax, mordacismordēre, to bite.


In literature:

Her pen is as mordant as her dog-whip.
"The Magnificent Montez" by Horace Wyndham
Few of the natural dyestuffs attach themselves permanently without use of a mordant.
"Textiles" by William H. Dooley
They say a mordant has been found to stay the flight of its lovely colours.
"The Tapestry Book" by Helen Churchill Candee
A sequel there was, and my readers will agree, I think, that it has a mordant humor quite its own.
"Frenzied Finance" by Thomas W. Lawson
Carmichael leaned back to look from one of these worthies to the other, and his spectacled eyes flamed with mordant scorn.
"Stingaree" by E. W. (Ernest William) Hornung
The most common mordant is sulphat of alumine, or alum.
"Conversations on Chemistry, V. 1-2" by Jane Marcet
Your mordant pen tore them to tatters.
"The Talking Horse" by F. Anstey
It forms brown crystals which are readily soluble in hot water, and it dyes mordanted cotton a dark brown.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 3, Part 1, Slice 1" by Various
Pour the mordant on to the film and warm cautiously over the flame till steam rises; keep the mordant gently steaming for one minute.
"The Elements of Bacteriological Technique" by John William Henry Eyre
That they were used both as mordants and alterants is evident from several references.
"Museum of Antiquity" by L. W. Yaggy

In poetry:

Set by some mordant of fancy,
And, spite of the wear and tear
Of time or distance or trouble,
Insists on its right to be there.
"An Ember Picture" by James Russell Lowell
(He could but thwart it with creative mace. . . .)
And now it rose about the heavenly Base,
Mordant at pillars rotten through and through
Of Matter's last, most firm abiding-place.
"The Abyss Triumphant" by Clark Ashton Smith

In news:

Weekend at Bernie's: East Texas Murder Mockumentary Makes For Amusingly Mordant Matinee.
In an uncharacteristically mordant disability doc, one thalidomide baby persuades 11 others to take off their clothes.
Of insects, mordants, and more.
Like a mordantly funny variation on "On Golden Pond," Bruce Graham's new play "The Outgoing Tide" wrests a surprising amount of humor from its dark tale of a family.
David Rakoff / Mordantly funny writer.
Sad, funny, and acutely self-conscious, Greenberg is the sort of mordant character study that people imagine were common in the '70s.
Vessel, Mark Fell, and Tod Dockstader's Mordant Music Reissue.
The latest release from this Massachusetts electro-pop band is a mordant breakup song – not that you can tell.
Susan Taylor and Nicole Mordant Reuters.
This mordant corporate drama from Spain (2005) comes across like an episode of The Apprentice scripted by Neil LaBute.
It's how he loves: ardently, recklessly, yet knowingly, with a young man's headlong passion and a mordant wisdom beyond his years.
Randy Newman writes mordant, ironic, concise songs with chromatic twists worthy of George Gershwin and Kurt Weill.
This month's business book picks offer a mordant look at life and labor.