pierc·​ing | \ ˈpir-siŋ How to pronounce piercing (audio) \

Definition of piercing

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: penetrating: such as
a : loud, shrill piercing cries
b : perceptive piercing eyes
c : penetratingly cold : biting a piercing wind
d : cutting, incisive piercing sarcasm



Definition of piercing (Entry 2 of 2)

: a piece of jewelry (such as a ring or stud) that is attached to pierced flesh

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Other Words from piercing


piercingly \ ˈpir-​siŋ-​lē How to pronounce piercingly (audio) \ adverb

Examples of piercing in a Sentence

Adjective She looked at me with piercing eyes, and I was suddenly frightened that she knew what I had done. I tried to avoid his piercing stare. She felt a piercing sadness when she heard the news. Noun There's a small shop in town where they do tattooing and body piercing. She got another ear piercing.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The most piercing lyricism is reserved for Wozzeck’s common-law wife, Marie, who falls victim to his madness. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "Operatic Shows of Force," 6 Jan. 2020 Most disheartening of all, facts, the hard currency of truth-telling, are being debased in Trump’s post-fact world, a move that can mute the most piercing whistle. Tom Mueller, Twin Cities, "Tom Mueller: What whistleblowers have wrought, and why," 9 Oct. 2019 But the visualization shows the midsection buzz transforming into a more piercing screech to overcome the pump’s din. Hiroko Tabuchi, New York Times, "Near Noisy Oil Fields, Lovesick Birds Change Their Tunes," 13 Mar. 2018 Making her ice blue gaze that much more piercing, glowing skin and a rosy nude pigment (courtesy of Dior’s new Addict Lacquer Plump lip stain in Lovely-D) rounded out the look. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Inside Paris Jackson’s Rock 'n' Roll Beauty Diary at the Dior Party in L.A.," 15 Mar. 2018 And when Marjorie Prime, still working out a fraught relationship with her daughter, streams a favorite song of the younger woman's as a peace offering, what unfolds is one of the most piercing moments in movies this year. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, "Critic's Notebook: In 'Marjorie Prime,' Lois Smith Gets Her Greatest Screen Role," 27 Nov. 2017 There are no words to describe the piercing loss Winchester felt on the worst day of his life. Vahe Gregorian, kansascity, "Forgiveness and faith buoy Chiefs’ James Winchester through murder of his father," 22 Sep. 2017 One of the first instances of body art practitioners asking to be regulated was in Florida, where a piercing law was enacted in 1999 with input from the industry. Marsha Mercer, Washington Post, "How safe and sanitary is ‘body art’? Laws regulating tattoos, piercing vary widely.," 25 June 2017 But Cornell still emerged as one of alternative-rock’s ultimate heartthrobs for his long, curly hair, fondness for going shirtless and piercing eyes. Chris Macias, sacbee.com, "Why Gen X - and rockers everywhere - are mourning Chris Cornell," 18 May 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Besides dentures, retainers, loose teeth, and tongue piercings can cause problems, said Peterson, who is president-elect of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Carla K. Johnson, BostonGlobe.com, "A man’s dentures got stuck in his throat during surgery — and they weren’t discovered for 8 days," 13 Aug. 2019 An anti-eyebrow piercing, as it's often referred to as, is a bold move. Devon Abelman, Allure, "JB of GOT7 Just Got a Piercing Under His Eye," 2 Jan. 2020 For the guests, there were stations around the venue to get free manicures, tattoos, and even piercings, as journalist Derek Blasberg captured on his Instagram Story. Georgia Slater, PEOPLE.com, "Pregnant Ashley Graham Jokes Her Baby Shower Was 'Bigger Than My Wedding'," 9 Nov. 2019 Derek Blasberg shared a series of videos showing guests enjoying stations with manicures, piercings, and even tattoos—real ones. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Ashley Graham's Unconventional Baby Shower Looked Like So Much Fun," 9 Nov. 2019 In a whitewashed room thick with cologne and anxiety, six male models sat on a leather couch, looking nearly identical in tight pants, gold rings and piercings, waiting to be seen. Washington Post, "In Bolsonaro’s Brazil, the fashion industry emerges as a center for LGBT resistance," 25 Oct. 2019 An arcing, topspin forehand against a piercing, flat backhand. Daniel Rapaport, SI.com, "Big Three's Dominance Continues (for Now) After Rafael Nadal Captures Another Major," 9 Sep. 2019 Tattoos were common in some of Afghanistan’s rural areas, especially among Pashtun and Hazara women, but the ink piercings were used sparingly, often as only a few green dots on the face. Washington Post, "A tattoo at a time, Afghan woman takes on society’s taboos," 16 Dec. 2019 Observers have pointed out that the disc resembles a gauge, the ear piercings people slowly acclimate their earlobes to. Ahiza Garcia, CNN, "Microsoft delays launch of earbuds intended to rival Apple AirPods," 21 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'piercing.' 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 piercing


14th century, in the meaning defined above


1977, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for piercing

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for piercing

Last Updated

21 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Piercing.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/piercing. Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for piercing


How to pronounce piercing (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of piercing

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: seeming to have the power to see a person's thoughts or feelings
: very loud and high-pitched
: having a strong affect on someone : felt in a very noticeable way



English Language Learners Definition of piercing (Entry 2 of 2)

: the act or practice of decorating your body with jewelry or other objects that are attached directly to your skin
: a hole through part of the body where a piece of jewelry can be attached


pierc·​ing | \ ˈpir-siŋ \

Kids Definition of piercing

1 : able to penetrate a piercing wind a piercing look
2 : loud and high-pitched piercing cries

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