\ ˈpirs How to pronounce pierce (audio) \
pierced; piercing

Definition of pierce

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to run into or through as a pointed weapon does : stab
b : to enter or thrust into sharply or painfully
2 : to make a hole through : perforate
3 : to force or make a way into or through
4 : to penetrate with the eye or mind : discern
5 : to penetrate so as to move or touch the emotions of

intransitive verb

: to force a way into or through something


biographical name
\ ˈpirs How to pronounce Pierce (audio) \

Definition of Pierce (Entry 2 of 2)

Franklin 1804–1869 14th president of the U.S. (1853–57)

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Other Words from pierce


piercer noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for pierce

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Choose the Right Synonym for pierce


enter, penetrate, pierce, probe mean to make way into something. enter is the most general of these and may imply either going in or forcing a way in. entered the city in triumph penetrate carries a strong implication of an impelling force or compelling power that achieves entrance. the enemy penetrated the fortress pierce means an entering or cutting through with a sharp pointed instrument. pierced the boil with a lancet probe implies penetration to investigate or explore something hidden from sight or knowledge. probed the depths of the sea

Examples of pierce in a Sentence

Verb The needle pierced her skin. The bullet pierced his lung. The needle pierced into her skin. The bullet pierced through his lung. A scream pierced the silence.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb This consideration suggests evolution would select for the narrowest designs possible: those that are barely sturdy enough to pierce their target without bending. Scott Hershberger, Scientific American, "Stingers Have Achieved Optimal Pointiness, Physicists Show," 6 July 2020 The Tlingits fought back, but their weapons could not pierce its skin. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, "Whether cursing, joking or telling stories, Alaskans have always had a lot to say about our ‘state bird’: the mosquito," 6 July 2020 This is advisable when using a thick-bodied plastic worm, since the hook point has to pierce the worm, which gets bunched on the hook shank during hooksetting and can hinder penetration. Mark Hicks, Field & Stream, "How to Get Better Hooksets," 22 June 2020 On Tuesday, two separate academic teams disclosed two new and distinctive exploits that pierce Intel’s Software Guard eXtension, by far the most sensitive region of the company’s processors. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Plundering of crypto keys from ultrasecure SGX sends Intel scrambling again," 9 June 2020 In the span of a few hours, the shop had 10 tattoo and piercing customers. David Montgomery, New York Times, "Businesses Chafing Under Covid-19 Lockdowns Turn to Armed Defiance," 13 May 2020 She’d been shot in the forehead, where the bullet pierced her frontal lobe and exited the top of her skull. Amber Hunt, Cincinnati.com, "Backstory: Pregnant mother Brittany Stykes' cold-blooded killing still unsolved nearly 7 years later," 19 May 2020 Tattoo, piercing and massage businesses will reopen the same day hair and nail salons, day spas and barber shops. Laura Hancock, cleveland, "Gov. Mike DeWine provides Thursday’s coronavirus update: Watch," 14 May 2020 The video shows white plumes of smoke in the dark night air as a fusillade of bullets hit the front of the Embassy, breaking a window and piercing a metal statue of Cuban revolutionary hero Jose Martí. Patrick Oppmann, CNN, "Cuba slams US over shooting attack on embassy in Washington," 12 May 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pierce.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of pierce


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for pierce


Middle English percen, from Anglo-French percer, from Vulgar Latin *pertusiare, from Latin pertusus, past participle of pertundere to perforate, from per- through + tundere to beat — more at per-, contusion

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Learn More about pierce

Time Traveler for pierce

Time Traveler

The first known use of pierce was in the 14th century

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Statistics for pierce

Last Updated

9 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pierce.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pierce. Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for pierce


How to pronounce Pierce (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pierce

: to make a hole in or through (something)
: to go through or into (something) in a forceful or noticeable way


\ ˈpirs How to pronounce pierce (audio) \
pierced; piercing

Kids Definition of pierce

1 : to make a hole in or through or as if in or through I had my ears pierced. A stab of fear pierced his heart.
2 : to force or make a way into or through The sunshine pierced through their faded dresses …— Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie
pierced; piercing

Legal Definition of pierce

: to see through the usually misleading or false appearance of the object of summary judgment is to pierce the pleadings and allow a judgment on the merits— J. H. Friedenthal et al. the Internal Revenue Service may attempt to pierce the plain meaning of the agreement— W. M. McGovern, Jr. et al.
pierce the corporate veil
: to disregard the corporate entity and reach the personal assets of the corporation's controlling parties : hold the controlling parties (as officers or shareholders) of a corporation personally liable for wrongful acts or debts of the corporation a…creditor in New York cannot pierce the corporate veil solely on grounds of inadequate capitalization— R. C. Clark — compare corporate immunity at immunity

Note: An action to pierce the corporate veil is usually grounded on the corporation's being an instrumentality or alter ego of the officers or shareholders and on some misuse (as fraud) of the officers' or shareholders' control over the corporation.

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More from Merriam-Webster on pierce

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pierce

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pierce

Spanish Central: Translation of pierce

Nglish: Translation of pierce for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pierce for Arabic Speakers

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