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Bitter vs. Sweet: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sumera Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Updated on September 28, 2023
Bitter and Sweet are opposite taste profiles; bitter has a sharp, pungent taste, often unpleasant, while sweet is characterized by a pleasant taste of sugar or honey.

Key Differences

Bitter and Sweet are descriptors primarily used to characterize the tastes perceived by the tongue, representing opposite ends of the taste spectrum. Bitter is usually described as a sharp, pungent, and often unpleasant taste, detected by the taste buds. It is a taste associated with black coffee, dark chocolate, and certain vegetables like kale and arugula. The recognition of bitterness acts as a natural warning system to potential toxins.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023
Sweet, on the other hand, is a taste that is pleasant, usually associated with sugar, honey, and syrup. It is one of the basic tastes and is sensed by special receptors located on our taste buds. Sweetness is universally accepted by the human palate, and it’s usually found in fruits, desserts, and beverages. This taste often signifies the presence of sugars which are a source of energy for the body.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023
In addition to their literal meanings, Bitter and Sweet also have metaphorical implications. Bitter can describe a person's feelings or experiences characterized by intense sorrow, pain, or resentment. For instance, a person can feel bitter after a betrayal or a failure. Sweet can symbolize pleasant and amiable experiences or personalities. A sweet person is considered kind, gentle, and pleasant, and a sweet memory is one that brings joy and happiness.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023
The utilization of Bitter and Sweet extends into various domains such as music, literature, and art to convey contrasting emotions, experiences, or attributes. Bitter melodies may convey sorrow or melancholy, while sweet tones might convey happiness or tranquility. These words serve to encapsulate the dichotomy of human experience, symbolizing the pleasant and unpleasant aspects of life.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Comparison Chart

Taste

Sharp, pungent, and often unpleasant taste.
Pleasant, usually sugary taste.
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Sep 28, 2023
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Representation

Represents potential toxins.
Represents energy sources.
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Sep 28, 2023

Metaphoric Use

Can signify sorrow, pain, or resentment.
Can signify happiness, kindness, or pleasantness.
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Sep 28, 2023

Common in

Dark chocolate, black coffee, some vegetables.
Fruits, desserts, honey.
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Sep 28, 2023

Sensation

Detected by taste buds as a warning.
Universally accepted and liked by the palate.
Harlon Moss
Sep 28, 2023

Bitter and Sweet Definitions

Bitter

Having a sharp, pungent, and usually unpleasant taste.
The medicine left a bitter taste in my mouth.
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Sep 28, 2023
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Sweet

Pleasing in general; delightful.
She has a sweet personality.
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Sep 28, 2023

Bitter

Sharp and unpleasant; harsh.
The cold wind had a bitter bite.
Sara Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

Sweet

Used to express approval or gratification.
Winning the game was a sweet victory.
Sara Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

Bitter

Having or being a taste that is sharp, acrid, and unpleasant.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Fragrant; perfumed.
The air was sweet with the scent of flowers.
Harlon Moss
Sep 28, 2023

Bitter

Causing a sharply unpleasant, painful, or stinging sensation; harsh
Enveloped in bitter cold.
A bitter wind.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Musically pure, clear, and harmonious.
The violinist produced a sweet tone.
Harlon Moss
Sep 28, 2023

Bitter

Difficult or distasteful to accept, admit, or bear
The bitter truth.
Bitter sorrow.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Having the taste of sugar or a substance containing or resembling sugar, as honey or saccharin.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Proceeding from or exhibiting strong animosity
A bitter struggle.
Bitter foes.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Containing or derived from sugar.
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Bitter

Resulting from or expressive of severe grief, anguish, or disappointment
Cried bitter tears.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Retaining some natural sugar; not dry
A sweet wine.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Marked by resentment or cynicism
"He was already a bitter elderly man with a gray face" (John Dos Passos).
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Pleasing to the senses; agreeable
The sweet song of the lark.
A sweet face.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

In an intense or harsh way; bitterly
A bitter cold night.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Pleasing to the mind or feelings; gratifying
Sweet revenge.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

To make bitter.
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Sweet

Having a pleasing disposition; lovable
A sweet child.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

That which is bitter
"all words ... / Failing to give the bitter of the sweet" (Tennyson).
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Kind; gracious
It was sweet of him to help out.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Bitters A bitter, usually alcoholic liquid made with herbs or roots and used in cocktails or as a tonic.
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Sweet

Fragrant; perfumed
A sweet scent.
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Bitter

Chiefly British A sharp-tasting beer made with hops.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Not saline or salted
Sweet water.
Sweet butter.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Having an acrid taste (usually from a basic substance).
The coffee tasted bitter.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Not spoiled, sour, or decaying; fresh
Sweet milk.
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Bitter

Harsh, piercing or stinging.
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Sweet

Free of acid or acidity
Sweet soil.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Hateful or hostile.
They're bitter enemies.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Low in sulfur content
Sweet fuel oil.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Cynical and resentful.
I've been bitter ever since that defeat.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

(Music) Of, relating to, or being a form of jazz characterized by adherence to a melodic line and to a time signature.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

(usually in the plural bitters) A liquid or powder, made from bitter herbs, used in mixed drinks or as a tonic.
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Sweet

Remarkable; outstanding.
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Bitter

A type of beer heavily flavored with hops.
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Sweet

Used as an intensive
Took his own sweet time to finish.
Earns a sweet million per year.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

(nautical) A turn of a cable about the bitts.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

In a sweet manner; sweetly.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

A hardware system whose architecture is based around units of the specified number of bits binary digits.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Sweet taste or quality; sweetness.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

To make bitter.
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Sweet

Something sweet to the taste.
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Bitter

AA turn of the cable which is round the bitts.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Foods, such as candy, pastries, puddings, or preserves, that are high in sugar content.
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Bitter

Any substance that is bitter. See Bitters.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

(Informal) Sweet potatoes
Candied sweets.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Having a peculiar, acrid, biting taste, like that of wormwood or an infusion of hops; as, a bitter medicine; bitter as aloes.
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Sweet

A sweet dish, such as pudding, served as dessert.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Causing pain or smart; piercing; painful; sharp; severe; as, a bitter cold day.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

A sweetmeat or confection.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Causing, or fitted to cause, pain or distress to the mind; calamitous; poignant.
It is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

A dear or beloved person.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Characterized by sharpness, severity, or cruelty; harsh; stern; virulent; as, bitter reproach.
Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Something pleasing to the mind or feelings.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Mournful; sad; distressing; painful; pitiable.
The Egyptians . . . made their lives bitter with hard bondage.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Having a pleasant taste, especially one relating to the basic taste sensation induced by sugar.
A sweet apple
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

To make bitter.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Having a taste of sugar.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

English term for a dry sharp-tasting ale with strong flavor of hops (usually on draft)
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

(wine) Retaining a portion of sugar.
Sweet wines are better dessert wines.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

The taste experience when quinine or coffee is taken into the mouth
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Not having a salty taste.
Sweet butter
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

The property of having a harsh unpleasant taste
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Having a pleasant smell.
A sweet scent
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Make bitter
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Not decaying, fermented, rancid, sour, spoiled, or stale.
Sweet milk
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Marked by strong resentment or cynicism;
An acrimonious dispute
Bitter about the divorce
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Having a pleasant sound.
A sweet tune
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Very difficult to accept or bear;
The bitter truth
A bitter sorrow
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Having a pleasing disposition.
A sweet child
You're so sweet!
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

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
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Having a helpful disposition.
It was sweet of him to help out.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

One of the four basic taste sensations; sharp and disagreeable; like the taste of quinine
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

(mineralogy) Free from excessive unwanted substances like acid or sulphur.
Sweet gas
Sweet soil
Sweet crude oil
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Expressive of severe grief or regret;
Shed bitter tears
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

(informal) Very pleasing; agreeable.
The new Lexus was a sweet birthday gift.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Proceeding from or exhibiting great hostility or animosity;
A bitter struggle
Bitter enemies
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

(slang) Doing well; in a good or happy position.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Causing a sharply painful or stinging sensation; used especially of cold;
Bitter cold
A biting wind
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Romantically fixated; enamored with; fond of.
The attraction was mutual and instant; they were sweet on one another from first sight.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Extremely and sharply;
It was bitterly cold
Bitter cold
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

; not salt or brackish.
Sweet water
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Characterized by intense resentment or sorrow.
His bitter attitude stemmed from years of disappointment.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 28, 2023

Sweet

To the eye; beautiful; mild and attractive; fair.
A sweet face
A sweet colour or complexion
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Difficult or distasteful to accept.
The defeat was a bitter pill to swallow.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Sweet

An intensifier.
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Feb 15, 2023

Bitter

Marked by severity or harshness.
She faced bitter poverty.
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Sep 28, 2023

Sweet

Used as a positive response to good news or information.
They're making a sequel? Ah, sweet!
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

In a sweet manner.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

(uncountable) The basic taste sensation induced by sugar.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

A confection made from sugar, or high in sugar content; a candy.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

A food eaten for dessert.
Can we see the sweet menu, please?
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Synonym of sweetheart, a term of affection.
Good evening, my sweet.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

(obsolete) That which is sweet or pleasant in odour; a perfume.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

(obsolete) Sweetness, delight; something pleasant to the mind or senses.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

To sweeten.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Having an agreeable taste or flavor such as that of sugar; saccharine; - opposed to sour and bitter; as, a sweet beverage; sweet fruits; sweet oranges.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Pleasing to the smell; fragrant; redolent; balmy; as, a sweet rose; sweet odor; sweet incense.
The breath of these flowers is sweet to me.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Pleasing to the ear; soft; melodious; harmonious; as, the sweet notes of a flute or an organ; sweet music; a sweet voice; a sweet singer.
To make his English sweet upon his tongue.
A voice sweet, tremulous, but powerful.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Pleasing to the eye; beautiful; mild and attractive; fair; as, a sweet face; a sweet color or complexion.
Sweet interchangeOf hill and valley, rivers, woods, and plains.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Fresh; not salt or brackish; as, sweet water.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Not changed from a sound or wholesome state. Specifically: (a) Not sour; as, sweet milk or bread. (b) Not state; not putrescent or putrid; not rancid; as, sweet butter; sweet meat or fish.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Plaesing to the mind; mild; gentle; calm; amiable; winning; presuasive; as, sweet manners.
Canst thou bind the sweet influence of Pleiades?
Mildness and sweet reasonableness is the one established rule of Christian working.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

That which is sweet to the taste; - used chiefly in the plural.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

That which is sweet or pleasant in odor; a perfume.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

That which is pleasing or grateful to the mind; as, the sweets of domestic life.
A little bitter mingled in our cup leaves no relish of the sweet.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

One who is dear to another; a darling; - a term of endearment.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Sweetly.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

To sweeten.
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

English phonetician; one of the founders of modern phonetics (1845-1912)
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

A dish served as the last course of a meal
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

A food rich in sugar
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

The taste experience when sugar dissolves in the mouth
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

The property of containing sugar
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Sweet

Having a pleasant taste (as of sugar)
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Having a sweet nature befitting an angel or cherub;
An angelic smile
A cherubic face
Looking so seraphic when he slept
A sweet disposition
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Pleasing to the ear;
The dulcet tones of the cello
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

One of the four basic taste sensations; very pleasant; like the taste of sugar or honey
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Pleasing to the senses;
The sweet song of the lark
The sweet face of a child
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Pleasing to the mind or feeling;
Sweet revenge
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Having a natural fragrance;
Odoriferous spices
The odorous air of the orchard
The perfumed air of June
Scented flowers
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Sweet

(used of wines) having a sweet taste
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Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Not soured or preserved;
Sweet milk
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Sweet

With sweetening added
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Sweet

Not having a salty taste;
Sweet water
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Sweet

In an affectionate or loving manner (`sweet' is sometimes a poetic or informal variant of `sweetly');
Susan Hayward plays the wife sharply and sweetly
How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank
Talking sweet to each other
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 15, 2023

Sweet

Having the taste characteristic of sugar or honey; not salty, sour, or bitter.
The cake was incredibly sweet.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

FAQs

Can a person be described as bitter?

Yes, a person feeling intense sorrow or resentment can be described as bitter.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Can Bitter and Sweet only describe taste?

No, they can also describe emotions, experiences, and attributes metaphorically.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Is sweet taste universally liked?

Generally, yes, the sweet taste is universally accepted and liked by the human palate.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Can sweet describe a fragrance?

Yes, sweet can describe a fragrant or perfumed scent.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Is bitterness a basic taste?

Yes, bitter is one of the basic tastes perceived by the taste buds.
Sara Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

Are bitter foods usually toxic?

Not all, bitterness can indicate toxicity, but many bitter foods are nutritious and healthy.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Can sweet symbolize approval?

Yes, sweet can be used to express approval or gratification.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Does sweet always refer to the presence of sugar?

Often, but sweet can also refer to anything that is pleasant to the senses.
Sara Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

Can bitterness be a metaphor for life experiences?

Yes, bitter can metaphorically represent harsh or unpleasant life experiences.
Janet White
Sep 28, 2023

Are bitter substances often rejected by the palate?

Yes, the human palate often rejects bitter substances as they can be associated with toxins.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 28, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.

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