\ ˈpirs How to pronounce pierce (audio) \
pierced; piercing

Definition of pierce

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : 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

intransitive verb

: to force a way into or through something


biographical name
\ ˈpirs How to pronounce Pierce (audio) \

Definition of Pierce (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Other Words from pierce


piercer noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for pierce

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of pierce in a Sentence

Verb The needle pierced her skin. The bullet pierced his lung. The needle pierced into her skin. The bullet pierced through his lung. A scream pierced the silence.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb After making a nice grab on a pass that was high and behind him, Gallup did an excellent job coming to balance with a quick gather step, enabling him to elude an Eagles linebacker and safety to pierce the end zone for the touchdown. John Owning, Dallas News, "Film room: 3 things we learned from Cowboys-Eagles, including a new defensive wrinkle Mike Nolan deserves credit for," 28 Dec. 2020 Loneliness is an epidemic and this could pierce through that. Star Tribune, "New health tech startup executive looks to ramp up sales of medication dispenser," 27 Dec. 2020 In this view, the artist’s true job is not to depict our transient reality but to pierce through it and give us some access to the absolute. Christopher Beha, Harper's Magazine, "Because God Did Not Relax," 27 Oct. 2020 Additional effort will be needed to pierce through any illusions, so ask questions and stay alert. Tarot Astrologers, chicagotribune.com, "Daily horoscope for December 5, 2020," 5 Dec. 2020 Three weeks into the conflict in Tigray, and regional states are threatening to pierce Ethiopia’s once-impenetrable status. Taylor Luck, The Christian Science Monitor, "Tigray crisis: Ethiopian stature and regional stability at risk," 25 Nov. 2020 Remove the cake from the oven, leaving it in the tin, and pierce the top in several places with a skewer, then run some of the toffee sauce over to soak in. Akili King, Vogue, "6 Chefs Share Their Favorite Vegan Recipes For the Holiday Season," 24 Nov. 2020 Although scientists once theorized the claws may have been used for slashing, most now believe that the dinosaur used them to pierce and pin down prey as hawks do. Amy Mckeever, National Geographic, "Why Velociraptors are among the most misunderstood dinosaurs," 18 Nov. 2020 Use the tines of a fork to pierce the crust in several places to allow steam to escape during baking. Jeanmarie Brownson, chicagotribune.com, "How to whip up a stellar pot pie from Thanksgiving leftovers," 18 Nov. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of pierce


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for 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

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Time Traveler for pierce

Time Traveler

The first known use of pierce was in the 14th century

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Statistics for pierce

Last Updated

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pierce.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pierce. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for pierce


How to pronounce Pierce (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pierce

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


\ ˈpirs How to pronounce pierce (audio) \
pierced; piercing

Kids Definition of pierce

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
pierced; piercing

Legal Definition of pierce

: 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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