See more synonyms for trench on
  1. Fortification. a long, narrow excavation in the ground, the earth from which is thrown up in front to serve as a shelter from enemy fire or attack.
  2. trenches, a system of such excavations, with their embankments, etc.
  3. a deep furrow, ditch, or cut.
  4. Oceanography. a long, steep-sided, narrow depression in the ocean floor.
verb (used with object)
  1. to surround or fortify with trenches; entrench.
  2. to cut a trench in.
  3. to set or place in a trench.
  4. to form (a furrow, ditch, etc.) by cutting into or through something.
  5. to make a cut in; cut into; carve.
verb (used without object)
  1. to dig a trench.
Verb Phrases
  1. trench on/upon,
    1. to encroach or infringe on.
    2. to come close to; verge on: His remarks were trenching on poor taste.

Origin of trench

1350–1400; Middle English trenche path made by cutting < Old French: act of cutting, a cut, derivative of trenchier to cut < Vulgar Latin *trincāre, for Latin truncāre to lop; see truncate
Related formssub·trench, nounun·trenched, adjective


  1. Richard Chen·e·vix [shen-uh-vee] /ˈʃɛn ə vi/, 1807–86, English clergyman and scholar, born in Ireland. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Contemporary Examples of trench

Historical Examples of trench

British Dictionary definitions for trench


  1. a deep ditch or furrow
  2. a ditch dug as a fortification, having a parapet of the excavated earth
  1. to make a trench in (a place)
  2. (tr) to fortify with a trench or trenches
  3. to slash or be slashed
  4. (intr; foll by on or upon) to encroach or verge
See also trenches

Word Origin for trench

C14: from Old French trenche something cut, from trenchier to cut, from Latin truncāre to cut off
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 trench

late 14c., "track cut through a wood," later "long, narrow ditch" (late 15c.), from Old French trenche "a slice, ditch" (late 13c.), from trenchier "to cut," possibly from Vulgar Latin *trincare, from Latin truncare "to cut or lop off" (see truncate). Trenches for military protection are first so called c.1500. Trench warfare first attested 1918. Trench-coat first recorded 1916, a type of coat worn by British officers in the trenches.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

trench in Science


  1. A long, steep-sided valley on the ocean floor. Trenches form when one tectonic plate slides beneath another plate at a subduction zone. The Marianas Trench, located in the western Pacific east of the Philippines, is the deepest known trench (10,924 m or 35,831 ft) and the deepest area in the ocean.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.