in·ci·sive | \in-ˈsī-siv \

Definition of incisive 

: impressively direct and decisive (as in manner or presentation) an incisive analysis an incisive unsentimental writer

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Other Words from incisive

incisively adverb
incisiveness noun

Did You Know?

Incisive has meant "impressively direct and decisive" since around 1834 and derives from the Latin verb caedere, meaning "to cut." Its linguistic kin include many cuttings from the fruitful stem caedere, such as scissors, chisel, incise ("to cut into or engrave"), excise ("to remove by cutting"), incisor ("a front tooth typically adapted for cutting"), incision ("cut" or "gash"), precise ("minutely exact"), and concise ("brief"). Incisive also carries a couple of lesser-known literal meanings relating to cutting: "having a cutting edge or piercing point" (as in "incisive fangs"), and, in dentistry, "of, relating to, or situated near the incisors."

Examples of incisive in a Sentence

She's known for her incisive mind and quick wit.

Recent Examples on the Web

The ’16 Pernot was penetrating and incisive, with a deep, rich aroma and flavors of herbs and tart citrus. Eric Asimov, New York Times, "The Aligoté Defense Rests," 28 June 2018 His club teammate would double the Red Devils' lead in the 31st minute with an exquisite shot from outside of the box following a quick counter inclusive of a wonderful run and an incisive pass from Romelu Lukaku., "Neymar Dives, Belgium High-Fives & Lukaku Thrives - Twitter Reacts to Incredible World Cup Clash," 6 July 2018 Graham Burk stands out as Lavache, a classic Shakespearean clown, the knowing court jester offering incisive commentary. Theodore P. Mahne,, "Shakespeare Fest's 'All's Well' a rare, but frustrating comedy," 5 June 2018 But White was incisive, instructive and, occasionally but not inappropriately, overcome with emotion. Phil Rosenthal,, "Rating NBC Olympics announcers: Who deserves gold, silver, bronze ... or lead?," 24 Feb. 2018 Pavard has been one of the revelations of the World Cup, tearing up and down France's right flank and forming a fearsome, incisive partnership with teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe . John Leicester,, "Without parents' sacrifices, there would not be World Cup stars," 9 July 2018 Readers of The Capital newspaper came to know Gerald Fischman’s writing through his incisive editorials about local government corruption, school system scandals and other Annapolis goings-on. Talia Richman,, "Capital Gazette editor Gerald Fischman remembered at funeral for dry wit, love of family," 8 July 2018 To its credit, the film eschews excess gore and mayhem, largely making its points in more subtly incisive ways. Gary Goldstein,, "Review: Episodic Indonesian thriller 'Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts' simmers and bedevils," 5 July 2018 In this smart, incisive page-turner, Alger takes her precise understanding of the financial world and zooms in on the nebulous business of offshore banking. Steph Cha, USA TODAY, "Smart women get caught up in deadly intrigue in page-turning 'The Banker's Wife'," 2 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'incisive.' 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 incisive

circa 1834, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

25 Sep 2018

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The first known use of incisive was circa 1834

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English Language Learners Definition of incisive

: very clear and direct : able to explain difficult ideas clearly and confidently


in·ci·sive | \in-ˈsī-siv \

Medical Definition of incisive 

: incisal also : of, relating to, or situated near the incisors

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