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See more synonyms for trenchant on Thesaurus.com
  1. incisive or keen, as language or a person; caustic; cutting: trenchant wit.
  2. vigorous; effective; energetic: a trenchant policy of political reform.
  3. clearly or sharply defined; clear-cut; distinct.
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Origin of trenchant

1275–1325; Middle English tranchaunt < Anglo-French; Old French trenchant, present participle of trenchier to cut. See trench, -ant
Related formstrench·an·cy, nountrench·ant·ly, adverb


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

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Examples from the Web for trenchancy

Historical Examples

  • But the ardour of the disciple pressed objections home with a trenchancy that is very unlike the sage distillations of the master.

    Diderot and the Encyclopaedists (Vol 1 of 2)

    John Morley

  • The trenchancy with which his atheist urges his reasoning, proves that the writer was fully alive to its force.

  • Still, trenchancy whether in speaker or writer is a most effective tone for a large public.

British Dictionary definitions for trenchancy


  1. keen or incisivetrenchant criticism
  2. vigorous and effectivea trenchant foreign policy
  3. distinctly defineda trenchant outline
  4. archaic, or poetic sharpa trenchant sword
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Derived Formstrenchancy, nountrenchantly, adverb

Word Origin

C14: from Old French trenchant cutting, from trenchier to cut; see trench
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 trenchancy



early 14c., "cutting, sharp," from Old French trenchant "cutting, sharp," present participle of trenchier "to cut" (see trench). Figurative sense is recorded from c.1600.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper