barbed tongue

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barbed tongue

A tendency to speak in a malicious or highly critical manner. Be prepared for your annual review—the boss tends to have a barbed tongue when going over your shortcomings. The mean old lady who lived on the corner made a reputation among us kids with her barbed tongue.
See also: tongue
References in periodicals archive ?
Reporters for local papers, to satisfy editors no less than thespians, are generally obliged to emulate the sundial, counting only the sunny hours, and must often make their punchiest and, in fact, their most keenly felt criticisms indirectly or by omissions, whereas critics on the nationals are encouraged to strike out in the opposite direction and maintain reputations no less for barbed tongues than for inflexible standards.