Reading through “Guided Compositions” for secondary School. Heading of composition is “Describe a time when you experienced your first success”. First sentence is as below.

some say success is sweet but mine was bitter sweet.

I tried to google search, I can see only bittersweet, can not find “bitter sweet”(with space in between)

Collins Dictionary

bittersweet (adj): If you describe an experience as bittersweet, you mean that it has some happy aspects and some sad ones.

Macmillan Dictionary

bitter-sweet (adj): involving or causing feelings of happiness and sadness at the same time

Is there any difference among “bitter sweet”? or bittersweet? or bitter-sweet?

  • Source please!! When quoting any text always tell us the source of the quote, even a short one like this. Have you used a dictionary? Which one?
    – James K
    May 9, 2021 at 6:12
  • @James K, updated. However I google searched “bitter sweet”, but could not find. And i searched bitter alone and could not “bitter sweet” inside
    – Rachayita
    May 9, 2021 at 6:36

1 Answer 1


Both are used. But in modern texts "bittersweet" is more common.

The word "bittersweet" is a compound adjective. It was formed by combining the words "bitter" and "sweet". Usually, when compound words form, they are initially spelt as two words with a space. Later, as the compound meaning becomes stronger, the space is naturally replaced by a hyphen and later omitted completely.

So if you mean something that has some happy and some sad aspects you would normally write "bittersweet". But you should expect to see some variation and "bitter-sweet" and "bitter sweet" are variants.

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