in·​ci·​sive | \ in-ˈsī-siv How to pronounce incisive (audio) \

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 Subscribe to get irreverent and incisive sports stories, delivered to your mailbox every morning. Andy Nesbitt, For The Win, "10 things in sports we are thankful for," 29 Nov. 2019 This Macbeth is an exceptionally incisive take, edited down to an hour and 40 minutes with no intermission. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Confusion’s Masterpiece," 2 Nov. 2019 At every stop, teammates and coaches spoke of his talent — he was named an All-Star nine times — and incisive knowledge of the game. David Waldstein, New York Times, "Mets Hire Carlos Beltran as Their New Manager," 1 Nov. 2019 Of course, the coach loves nothing more than clever, incisive passing, and that is the Spaniard's forte., "Should Manchester City Make a Move for Spanish Starlet Mikel Oyarzabal?," 21 Oct. 2019 Burr describes his wife’s exhaustion with his attempts to defend Elvis, recites her incisive breakdown of why Elvis is worthy of criticism, and then exhales. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Bill Burr Knows Better," 24 Sep. 2019 Avidly anticipated and incisive, Trick Mirror chronicles various aspects of contemporary culture, from fraternities to the attention economy, that have shaped Tolentino's sense of herself and her moment. Sophia Nguyen, Dallas News, "Jia Tolentino offers smart takes on the absurdities of modern life," 12 Aug. 2019 Critics unanimously adored its second season, which culminated Oct. 13 with a twisty, incisive, tragically beautiful finale that took place entirely on the family’s superyacht roving the Mediterranean. Adam Epstein, Quartzy, "No TV show has ever weaponized figurative language as well as HBO’s “Succession”," 15 Oct. 2019 Stories from Smarsh’s own life as a fifth-generation member of a Kansas wheat farming family are contextualized with incisive sociological analysis., "Get tickets now for 2019 Tribune literary awards," 3 Oct. 2019

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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The first known use of incisive was circa 1834

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Last Updated

4 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Incisive.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 7 December 2019.

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More Definitions for incisive


How to pronounce incisive (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of incisive

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


in·​ci·​sive | \ in-ˈsī-siv How to pronounce incisive (audio) \

Medical Definition of incisive

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

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