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[in-sahy-siv] /ɪnˈsaɪ sɪv/
penetrating; cutting; biting; trenchant:
an incisive tone of voice.
remarkably clear and direct; sharp; keen; acute:
an incisive method of summarizing the issue.
adapted for cutting or piercing.
of or relating to the incisors:
the incisive teeth.
Origin of incisive
From the Medieval Latin word incīsīvus, dating back to 1520-30. See incise, -ive
Related forms
incisively, adverb
incisiveness, noun
unincisive, adjective
unincisively, adverb
unincisiveness, noun
1. acid, mordant; sarcastic, sardonic. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for incisiveness
Historical Examples
  • Jeremy was pale, but his manner kept its incisiveness, his speech its lucidity.

    Double Harness Anthony Hope
  • There is lack of incisiveness, sharpness of outline, cohesion of thought.

  • There appears to be an incisiveness about them which appeals to parrot nature.

    Birds of the Plains Douglas Dewar
  • The beauty and incisiveness of the poetic prophecy in xxxvii.

  • "It is certainly a medley," he replied, with some incisiveness.

    Brooke's Daughter Adeline Sergeant
  • Her incisiveness seemed to fail her when with Lawrence Vickery.

    Rodman the Keeper Constance Fenimore Woolson
  • What is the faculty which gives relief, brilliancy, and incisiveness to thought?

    Amiel's Journal Henri-Frdric Amiel
  • Incisive he was not ordinarily; caution of his type harmonises ill with incisiveness.

    Life of Charles Darwin

    G. T. (George Thomas) Bettany
  • Probably this work lost something in incisiveness and brilliancy by being postponed till the writer's old age.

    Washington Irving Charles Dudley Warner
  • Time had chiseled it to an incisiveness not incongruous with a lingering air of youth.

British Dictionary definitions for incisiveness


keen, penetrating, or acute
biting or sarcastic; mordant: an incisive remark
having a sharp cutting edge: incisive teeth
Derived Forms
incisively, adverb
incisiveness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for incisiveness



early 15c., inscisif, "slashing, cutting with a sharp edge," from Middle French incisif and directly from Medieval Latin incisivus, from Latin incis-, past participle stem of incidere (see incision). Originally literal; figurative sense of "mentally acute" first recorded 1850 as a borrowing from French. Related: Incisively; incisiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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incisiveness in Medicine

incisive in·ci·sive (ĭn-sī'sĭv)

  1. Having the power to cut.

  2. Relating to the incisor teeth.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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