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

Other Words from piercing


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

Synonyms for piercing

Synonyms: Adjective

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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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective What follows is a piercing shriek to seal this lively break-up jam, fueled by a St. Vincent-like sense of playful assuredness. Spin Staff, SPIN, 3 June 2022 The words had a piercing clarity in the silence dictated by tennis custom. Los Angeles Times, 13 Mar. 2022 But an even more piercing moment came during a much quieter song. New York Times, 20 Feb. 2022 Among the film’s most piercing scenes are a couple of doozies set in the local watering hole, where Leslie gravitates to slake her thirst and to escape the judgment of her grudging hosts. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 Mar. 2022 Buarque’s eyes are more piercing, his chin slightly more pinched. Washington Post, 7 Apr. 2022 After all, only those on the highest level, able to navigate the most piercing pain, are singled out by God. Rabbi Avi Weiss, sun-sentinel.com, 21 Mar. 2022 Sumy Sadurni, a prolific photojournalist who documented human rights struggles, political resistance and gender issues in East Africa through a piercing and intimate lens, died on March 7 in Kampala, Uganda. New York Times, 21 Mar. 2022 Few filmmakers have cast an eye back over childhood joys and growing pains with more piercing intimacy and resonant emotional connection than Richard Linklater in his sui generis masterwork, Boyhood. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Kwon's piercing, flat groundstrokes and soft drop shots were effective for stretches. Howard Fendrich, BostonGlobe.com, 27 June 2022 There are the voices of interview subjects — sensitive, piercing, anguished, hopeful — relating a generations-long fight for justice that goes to the core of American history and yet is barely discussed in classrooms. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 21 June 2022 But the piercing of the crypto bubble falls into the no-big-deal category of risks. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, 20 May 2022 That's naturally going to happen because the piercing is a fresh wound. Gabi Thorne, Allure, 25 Apr. 2022 This dramatic piercing on the white continent oozes five stories high at the end of Taylor Glacier, where an ancient saltwater reservoir trapped beneath the glacier flows to the surface and into Lake Bonney. Kathleen Rellihan, Outside Online, 14 May 2022 Black Flag’s piercing hardcore and Sabbathy sludge shared little with the Minutemen’s springy, spiky punk-jazz fusion, the Meat Puppets’ Dead-like excursions or Hüsker Dü’s blend of pop savvy and stun guitar. Mark Athitakis, Los Angeles Times, 12 Apr. 2022 Like any piercing, there's always a possibility of infection or rejection. Gabi Thorne, Allure, 25 Apr. 2022 Temperatures in mid-January fluctuated dramatically: down to the 40s at night, and into the 80s in the piercing midday sun. New York Times, 21 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near piercing

Pierced Nose


piercing punch

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Statistics for piercing

Last Updated

6 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Piercing.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/piercing. Accessed 2 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for piercing


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

More from Merriam-Webster on piercing

Nglish: Translation of piercing for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of piercing for Arabic Speakers


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