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 Before Breitbart and 4chan mastered the art of the strategically incisive political lie, the Greek deity Zeus was already at the bleeding edge of fake news. Aziz Huq, Washington Post, "Political lies aren’t new, but the methods of spreading them are," 25 June 2020 By the way, Fernay McPherson, owner of Minnie Bell’s, just wrote this incisive piece about the current protest movement for Food and Wine. Soleil Ho,, "Introducing a new kind of food podcast: Extra Spicy!," 10 June 2020 Gabriel Jesus latched onto an incisive through-ball, the striker baring down on goal., "Shakhtar 0-3 Manchester City: Report, Ratings & Reaction as City Get Back to Winning Ways in Ukraine," 18 Sep. 2019 But the decision amounted to the first time that the Chinese government has effectively banned a reporter from the Journal, a publication generally known for incisive but evenhanded coverage of the country. Gerry Shih, Washington Post, "China expels Wall Street Journal reporter over coverage of Xi’s family," 30 Aug. 2019 The work is incisive and full of rightful despair, while making of whimsy a wonderfully barbed weapon. Leah Ollman, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Don’t tell Elyse Pignolet to ‘calm down.’ How one artist answers sexism with a roar," 23 Oct. 2019 Weir turned the game on its head in the second-half and provided a significant threat to the United goal with some sharp, incisive runs and neat footwork in and around the box., "Man City 1-0 Man Utd: Report, Ratings & Reaction as City Edge First WSL Derby," 7 Sep. 2019 Kell, also a Hall of Famer, and Kaline, after a rough learning curve, provided engaging, incisive commentary on Tigers telecasts for the next two decades. John Lowe, Detroit Free Press, "Al Kaline, Detroit Tigers legend, dies at age 85," 6 Apr. 2020 With any story during his more than decade with the paper — about everything from wind power to gangs to politics to exorcism rituals — his writing was artful and colorful, his reporting deep and incisive. Rick Kogan,, "A journalist is walking across the world, retracing the steps of first humans. Chicago has joined in.," 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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Time Traveler for incisive

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The first known use of incisive was circa 1834

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Last Updated

4 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Incisive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 2020.

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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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