incisive or keen, as language or a person; caustic; cutting: trenchant wit.
vigorous; effective; energetic: a trenchant policy of political reform.
clearly or sharply defined; clear-cut; distinct.

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

Synonyms for trenchant Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for trenchant

Contemporary Examples of trenchant

  • Much looking forward to going on with what is apparently also a trenchant and enlightening book.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Book Bag: What Nick Harkaway Is Reading

    Nick Harkaway

    November 6, 2012

  • Typically, the Internet exploded with trenchant commentary about the leather jacket Palin wore.

    The Daily Beast logo
    McCain-Palin: The Sequel

    Meghan McCain

    March 28, 2010

  • Moss came to admire Wasserstein and his trenchant deconstruction of his fellow power brokers.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Life After Wasserstein

    Ralph Gardner, Jr.

    December 14, 2009

  • From the Reagan ascension until recently, the most trenchant description of the prevailing vision was “Starve the Beast.”

    The Daily Beast logo
    Here Comes Obamanomics

    Matt Miller

    February 26, 2009

  • He first hit a nerve in 1996 with his trenchant bestseller The Death of Common Sense.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Are Lawyers Killing America?

    The Daily Beast

    February 17, 2009

Historical Examples of trenchant

  • It was exhaustive and trenchant, and produced a great effect.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • I only saw him once, but the gleam in his eyes was as harsh and trenchant as that of a knife.

  • Then followed the trenchant lesson: "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

    Jesus the Christ

    James Edward Talmage

  • But in the hands of Princess Heinrich silence was a trenchant weapon.

    The King's Mirror

    Anthony Hope

  • Catenac was in no way disconcerted at this trenchant argument.

    Caught In The Net

    Emile Gaboriau

British Dictionary definitions for trenchant



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

Word Origin for trenchant

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 trenchant

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper