\ ˈpirs \
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 \

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

access, enter, penetrate

Antonyms: Verb

depart, exit, leave

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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


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

Her leg, pierced by a bullet, was mangled and infected with gangrene. Eric Adler, kansascity, "Mother pushed daughter off train to save her from Nazis. This song tells their story | The Kansas City Star," 10 May 2018 Claire’s, known for its ear-piercing program, operates in 99% of U.S. malls, according to the company’s court filing. Emily Price, Fortune, "Mall Staple Claire's Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy," 19 Mar. 2018 Across the Internet, many have reminisced about their most vivid Claire's memories, including those notorious ear-piercing services. Halie Lesavage, Glamour, "Claire's Reportedly Plans to File For Bankruptcy, So Stock Up on Earring Sets While You Still Can," 9 Mar. 2018 The complaint filed Friday in federal court in Phoenix says Haig didn't have a license to manufacture armor-piercing ammunition. Washington Post, "Man who manufactured armor-piercing bullets used in Las Vegas shooting charged in Ariz.," 6 Mar. 2018 In fact, the risk to humans from an ear-piercing is greater since chip implants scab over far more quickly—in a matter of hours. Yael Grauer, Ars Technica, "A practical guide to microchip implants," 3 Jan. 2018 Well, nothing could have prepared me for the knife-piercing pain that shot through my body every time my son wanted to eat, which, P.S., was every two hours. Erin Zammett Ruddy, Redbook, "Attention Moms: It's OK to Stop Breastfeeding," 18 Sep. 2017 The day began with overcast skies, pierced by the sun by midday, with the overcast creeping back into the beach areas as the late afternoon burgers were being grilled. sandiegouniontribune.com, "July 5, 1976: San Diego celebrates U.S. Bicentennial," 5 July 2018 The recent bearish signals in the gold market mark a contrast from earlier in the year, when gold stayed above $1,350 and some bulls called for prices to pierce $1,400 for the first time since 2013. David Hodari, WSJ, "Gold Plumbs Fresh 2018 Lows as Rate Worries Continue," 21 June 2018

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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Learn More about pierce

Phrases Related to pierce

pierced ears

Statistics for pierce

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pierce

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

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More Definitions for pierce



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 \
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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Comments on pierce

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to make amends

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