verb \ ˈpirs \
|Updated on: 6 Jul 2018

Definition of pierce

pierced; piercing
1 a : 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
: to force a way into or through something



Examples of pierce in a Sentence

  1. The needle pierced her skin.

  2. The bullet pierced his lung.

  3. The needle pierced into her skin.

  4. The bullet pierced through his lung.

  5. A scream pierced the silence.

Recent Examples of pierce from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

pierce Synonyms

Synonym Discussion of 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


biographical name \ ˈpirs \

Definition of Pierce

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

PIERCE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of pierce for English Language Learners

  • : to make a hole in or through (something)

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

PIERCE Defined for Kids


verb \ ˈpirs \

Definition of pierce for Students

pierced; piercing
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

Law Dictionary


transitive verb

legal Definition of pierce

pierced; piercing
: 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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to grant as a privilege or special favor

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