A jukuu.com example sentence for is:

She's got a sharp tongue
(Tā shuōhuà hěn kè)

她说话很刻 at Jukuu.com

I haven't encountered this usage of 刻 before, so I'm wondering how it might be used.

Question: In what contexts would someone say 她说话很刻?

I would guess it could be used to describe a particularly strict teacher, perhaps. Just a guess though.

  • adj. 刻 usually occurs as part of 2-syllable adjective (even when preceded by adverb 很) : bkrs:很刻:她虽然不很聪明,但很刻苦。 She is not very clever but she is painstaking. 他是一个很刻薄的人。 He’s mean. 这个人的性格很刻板。 This person has an inflexible character. (1) 刻薄; 苛刻 [unkind; sarcastic] 性刻害, 好发人阴私。 --《汉书·杨恽传》 诜居官颇刻敛。 --《唐书·孟诜传》(2) 又如: 刻峭(苛刻; 严酷); 刻碎(苛刻繁琐); 刻诛(严酷的刑罚); 刻酷(苛刻; 严酷) (4) 刻苦 [assiduous]。 如: 刻励(刻苦勤勉); 刻厉(刻苦自励) – user6065 Oct 1 '17 at 3:23

To be honest, 她说话很刻 is hard to understand; I think 她说话很刻薄 would be more natural. Basically it means saying something unkind/acerb/acrid etc.

Here's an explanation about 刻薄.

◎ 刻薄 kèbó
(1) [cutting;harsh;caustic;mean;acrimony]∶待人处事挑剔、无情
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  • BTW, the #65 example sentence from jukuu.com is weird too; "要说塔夫脱是靠说假话取得总统职位,未免刻" I don't think it's a complete sentence.. – user4072 Oct 1 '17 at 3:16

「刻」here is short for 「刻薄unkind, harsh, mean, acrimonious

尖酸刻薄sharp and unkind (words)

Many two-characters words can be shortened to a single character

For example:

You can shortened a two-characters word into a single character word if the two characters have similar meaning.

「她手段很毒辣」 -->「她手段很毒」 (shorten「毒辣」 to「毒」)

「她詞鋒很銳利」 -->「她詞鋒很銳」 (shorten「銳利」 to「銳」)

「她说话很刻薄」/「她说话很尖酸刻薄」--> 「她说话很刻」

Shortening 「刻薄」or 「尖酸刻薄」 to 「刻」 is not a common practice of abbreviation.

The common phrase「尖酸刻薄」 can be shortened to 「尖刻」and still be understood. But 「刻」 can form too many different terms. For example, 「刻苦」「刻意」, 「刻板」. It is hard to guess which one you mean by just saying 「刻」 alone

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  • I believe it's a dialect-specific word, not used in standard Mandarin. – 炸鱼薯条德里克 Nov 9 '18 at 3:19
  • @神秘德里 So you agree with me that unlike 毒辣 can be shortened to 毒, it is not a standard way to shorten 刻薄 to just 薄, – Tang Ho Nov 9 '18 at 4:03
  • Yes. I roughly guess it's kind of Taiwan teenager words. They tend to shorten words to one syllable, which is a small language feature that can't be found on textbooks or papers. – 炸鱼薯条德里克 Nov 9 '18 at 4:17

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