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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 trenchant

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • 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


  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 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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper