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 His sneer was often incisive, and always entertaining. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "James Bagehot: The Great Victorian Journalist," 12 Sep. 2019 Trailing 2-0 at the break, Minnesota were incisive immediately in the second half. Andy Greder, Twin Cities, "Minnesota United falls 2-1 to Atlanta in U.S. Open Cup final," 27 Aug. 2019 Geoff Colvin ticked at all these themes in his incisive look at AT&T in Fortune earlier this year. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "Can AT&T Do Good and Reward Shareholders?—Data Sheet," 10 Sep. 2019 Concise, incisive instruction, possibly presented in FAQs format, should be just one click away for all users of all of the platforms, all of the time. Cat Zakrzewski, Washington Post, "The Technology 202: New NYU report urges social media companies to take down 'provably' false information," 3 Sep. 2019 Her sense of humor is as refreshing as her incisive observations on this feisty rendition of low-brow TV. Ed Stockly,, "Reader letters: Let the Marianne Williamson debate rage on," 8 July 2019 Given the setup of these characters and their positions in society, there is ample room for some incisive class commentary, and while there are some minor attempts, Freundlich is far too seduced by the packaging. Mark Olsenstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Indie Focus: The joy of friendship in ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’," 9 Aug. 2019 Known for her inventive camera and editing techniques, incisive cultural commentary and excellent humor, she was quickly named the head of production at Gaumont. Katie Walsh, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: ‘Be Natural’ sheds light on the first female film director," 18 July 2019 Arriola and Tyler Boyd, who recently transferred his international allegiance from New Zealand and was capped for the second time on Tuesday, were the mobile, incisive and decisive antidotes to the game’s languid pace. Brian Straus,, "Wingers Do the Work for USA in Gold Cup-Opening Win Over Guyana," 19 June 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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Last Updated

23 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for incisive

The first known use of incisive was circa 1834

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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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