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piercing

[peer-sing]
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adjective
  1. loud or shrill, as the quality of a voice.
  2. extremely cold or bitter: a piercing wind.
  3. appearing to gaze deeply or penetratingly into something: piercing eyes.
  4. perceptive or aware; acute: a piercing mind.
  5. sarcastic or caustic; cutting: piercing remarks.
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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

Synonyms for piercing

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pierce

[peers]
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 for pierce

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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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for piercing

earsplitting, penetrating, blaring, high-pitched, fierce, biting, shrill, painful, treble, shooting, stabbing, excruciating, freezing, agonizing, keen, thin, deafening, roaring, bitter, shattering

Examples from the Web for piercing

Contemporary Examples of piercing

Historical Examples of piercing

  • Yet, every word had in it the piercing, horrible sting of truth.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Our disaster was too awful, and the pathos of that solitary survivor too piercing.

  • Daylight had not yet succeeded in piercing through the night clouds.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • His face was stern, his nose beak-like, and his small eyes grey and piercing.

  • A second cry arose, piercing the silence with needle-like shrillness.

    White Fang

    Jack London


British Dictionary definitions for piercing

piercing

adjective
  1. (of a sound) sharp and shrill
  2. (of eyes or a look) intense and penetrating
  3. (of an emotion) strong and deeply affecting
  4. (of cold or wind) intense or biting
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noun
  1. the art or practice of piercing body parts for the insertion of jewellery
  2. an instance of the piercing of a body part
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Derived Formspiercingly, adverb

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 for pierce

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 piercing

adj.

in reference to cold, sound, etc., early 15c., present participle adjective from pierce (v.). Figuratively, of pain, grief, etc., from late 14c. Related: Piercingly.

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n.

late 14c., verbal noun from pierce (v.).

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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