[ peer-sing ]
/ ˈpɪər sɪŋ /


loud or shrill, as the quality of a voice.
extremely cold or bitter: a piercing wind.
appearing to gaze deeply or penetratingly into something: piercing eyes.
perceptive or aware; acute: a piercing mind.
sarcastic or caustic; cutting: piercing remarks.

Nearby words

  1. pierce's disease,
  2. pierce, franklin,
  3. pierce, john,
  4. pierced,
  5. piercer,
  6. piercing saw,
  7. piercingly,
  8. piercy,
  9. pierhead,
  10. pieria

Origin of piercing

late Middle English word dating back to 1375–1425; see origin at pierce, -ing2

Related formspierc·ing·ly, adverbpierc·ing·ness, nounun·pierc·ing, adjective


[ peers ]
/ pɪərs /

verb (used with object), pierced, pierc·ing.

verb (used without object), pierced, pierc·ing.

to force or make a way into or through something; penetrate: to pierce to the heart.

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

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.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for piercing

British Dictionary definitions for piercing


/ (ˈpɪəsɪŋ) /


(of a sound) sharp and shrill
(of eyes or a look) intense and penetrating
(of an emotion) strong and deeply affecting
(of cold or wind) intense or biting


the art or practice of piercing body parts for the insertion of jewellery
an instance of the piercing of a body part
Derived Formspiercingly, adverb


/ (pɪəs) /

verb (mainly tr)

Derived Formspierceable, adjectivepiercer, noun

Word Origin for pierce

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


/ (pɪəs) /


Franklin. 1804–69, US statesman; 14th president of the US (1853–57)
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 piercing
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper