pierce

verb

pierced; piercing

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to force a way into or through something
piercer noun
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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Despite optimism that Ukraine could reclaim more of its occupied territories, its counteroffensive in the summer of 2023 failed to significantly pierce Russia’s defenses. Christian Edwards, CNN, 8 Apr. 2024 Money illusion — the common human failure to pierce the veil imposed by inflation — has obscured that reality. Jeff Sommer, New York Times, 5 Apr. 2024 When a boom and distant gunfire pierce the calm, Mr. Adler gazes skyward and says that this is why his family remains at a temporary home two hours north, near Haifa. Howard Lafranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, 28 Mar. 2024 The atmosphere between songs was so reverent that somebody was moved to pierce the tension by blasting an ironic airhorn. Jazz Monroe, Pitchfork, 21 Mar. 2024 The bullet pierced her chest and exited her back, lodging in Souza’s shoulder. Meg James, Los Angeles Times, 6 Mar. 2024 Below, a collection of the best multi hoop earrings and cuffs that serve as an optical illusion—requiring only one (or none at all) piercing. Mekaylah Yowpp-Hernacki, Vogue, 27 Mar. 2024 The other officer was struck three times — two bullets hitting his back, while another struck him in the pelvis and pierced his abdomen, causing severe internal damage that forced him to undergo four separate surgeries. Vernal Coleman, ProPublica, 27 Mar. 2024 In response to the truck's presence, the wild animal charged toward the vehicle and tossed it several times, per the AP, almost piercing the truck with its tusks. Kelli Bender, Peoplemag, 25 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pierce.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near pierce

Cite this Entry

“Pierce.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pierce. Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

pierce

verb
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 in or through
have one's ears pierced
3
: to force or make a way into or through
pierce the enemy's line
4
: to penetrate with the eye or mind : see through
5
: to stir the emotions of : move
piercer noun

Legal Definition

pierce

transitive verb
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 meritsJ. H. Friedenthal et al.
the Internal Revenue Service may attempt to pierce the plain meaning of the agreementW. M. McGovern, Jr. et al.

Biographical Definition

Pierce

biographical name

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

More from Merriam-Webster on pierce

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