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pierce

[peers]
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verb (used with object), pierced, pierc·ing.
  1. to penetrate into or run through (something), as a sharp, pointed dagger, object, or instrument does.
  2. to make a hole or opening in.
  3. to bore into or through; tunnel.
  4. to perforate.
  5. to make (a hole, opening, etc.) by or as by boring or perforating.
  6. to make a way or path into or through: a road that pierces the dense jungle.
  7. to penetrate with the eye or mind; see into or through: She couldn't pierce his thoughts.
  8. to affect sharply with some sensation or emotion, as of cold, pain, or grief: The wind pierced her body. Her words pierced our hearts.
  9. to sound sharply through (the air, stillness, etc.): A pistol shot pierced the night.
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verb (used without object), pierced, pierc·ing.
  1. to force or make a way into or through something; penetrate: to pierce to the heart.
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Origin of pierce

1250–1300; Middle English percen < Old French perc(i)er < Vulgar Latin *pertūsiāre, verbal derivative of Latin pertūsus, past participle of pertundere to bore a hole through, perforate, equivalent to per- per- + tundere to strike, beat
Related formspierce·a·ble, adjectivepierc·er, nounun·pierce·a·ble, adjective

Synonyms

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Synonym study

1. Pierce, penetrate suggest the action of one object passing through another or making a way through and into another. The terms are used both concretely and figuratively. To pierce is to perforate quickly, as by stabbing; it suggests the use of a sharp, pointed instrument which is impelled by force: to pierce the flesh with a knife; a scream pierces one's ears. Penetrate suggests a slow or difficult movement: No ordinary bullet can penetrate an elephant's hide; to penetrate the depths of one's ignorance.

Pierce

[peers]
noun
  1. Franklin,1804–69, 14th president of the U.S. 1853–57.
  2. John Robinson,1910–2002, U.S. electrical engineer: helped develop communications satellites.
  3. a male given name, form of Peter.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

plowgashintrudeprobeprickdrilltransfixcrackspikecleaveincisebreakslitslicestabpunctureenterslashboreperforate

Examples from the Web for pierce

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • No shaft that Percival was able to fashion had point enough to pierce it.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • At the least sound her hands burned and her eyes tried to pierce the darkness.

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

  • In popular usage to pierce with any weapon which remains fixed in the wound.

  • Dick, reckless of shell and bullets, tried to pierce the cloud with his eyes.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

  • His keenest inquiries had been unable to pierce the secret of her birth and station.

    Leila, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton


British Dictionary definitions for pierce

pierce

verb (mainly tr)
  1. to form or cut (a hole) in (something) with or as if with a sharp instrument
  2. to thrust into or penetrate sharply or violentlythe thorn pierced his heel
  3. to force (a way, route, etc) through (something)
  4. (of light) to shine through or penetrate (darkness)
  5. (also intr) to discover or realize (something) suddenly or (of an idea) to become suddenly apparent
  6. (of sounds or cries) to sound sharply through (the silence)
  7. to move or affect (a person's emotions, bodily feelings, etc) deeply or sharplythe cold pierced their bones
  8. (intr) to penetrate or be capable of penetratingpiercing cold
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Derived Formspierceable, adjectivepiercer, noun

Word Origin

C13 percen, from Old French percer, ultimately from Latin pertundere, from per through + tundere to strike

Pierce

noun
  1. Franklin. 1804–69, US statesman; 14th president of the US (1853–57)
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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

Word Origin and History for pierce

v.

late 13c. "make a hole in; force one's way through," from Anglo-French perser, Old French percier "pierce, transfix, drive through" (12c., Modern French percer), probably from Vulgar Latin *pertusiare, frequentative of Latin pertusus, past participle of pertundere "to thrust or bore through," from per- "through" (see per) + tundere "to beat, pound," from PIE *tund-, from root *(s)teu- "to push, strike, knock, beat, thrust" (see obtuse). Related: Pierced; piercing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper