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 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective His physical appearance, ramrod straight with piercing eyes, thinning hair, and a voluminous mustache, only added to his appeal for admirers. Philip Terzian, Washington Examiner, "G. Gordon Liddy, 1930-2021," 1 Apr. 2021 News of Everard’s disappearance was a piercing and depressing reiteration that women’s safety mechanisms are insufficient. Raven Smith, Vogue, "On Sarah Everard and Protesting a Predatory World," 17 Mar. 2021 This time, complaints (or exultations) about their piercing cries will pepper Twitter and Facebook, and scientists will track them perhaps with more accuracy than ever before. Christine Condon, baltimoresun.com, "Get ready, Maryland: The 17-year Brood X cicadas are coming in May," 4 Mar. 2021 Zengota joined Piercing Pagoda last fall as a piercing specialist with 10 years of experience. Parija Kavilanz, CNN, "This piercing chain thinks it has found a new way to get people through mall doors," 3 Mar. 2021 The beauty of the quilts occasionally belie the piercing nature of some of the subject matter. Brienne Walsh, Forbes, "In A Series Of Quilts, L’Merchie Frazier Saves Us From Amnesia Regarding Black History," 24 Feb. 2021 In the distance, three visiting hikers stopped dead in their tracks at the piercing sound and its echo bouncing off the walls of the ravine that separated them. New York Times, "‘Special and Beautiful’ Whistled Language Echoes Around This Island," 18 Feb. 2021 The invocation of December and a piercing wind reminded me that our time socializing outside in relative comfort is ending; this is the eve of our city’s next long, dark winter. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "Mourning the Autumn in New York City That Could Have Been," 29 Sep. 2020 Love songs carry new complexities, self-reflections pick up new details on personal depression and battles against misogyny; there’s not a bum track in the bunch, but with more piercing authenticity, Women in Music Pt. Andrew Unterberger, Billboard, "The 25 Best Rock Albums of 2020: Staff Picks," 15 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Right before the bang, there was a single piercing whistle. Rebecca Tan, Washington Post, "In former Klan country, one Black woman decides she’s had enough," 31 Mar. 2021 However, Godzilla’s bite is by no means weak, and all of his teeth are flesh-piercing, similar to crocodile and monitor lizard teeth. Kiersten Formoso, The Conversation, "Godzilla vs. Kong: A functional morphologist uses science to pick a winner," 29 Mar. 2021 The service costs $35 to $55, depending on the type of piercing and jewelry. Parija Kavilanz, CNN, "This piercing chain thinks it has found a new way to get people through mall doors," 3 Mar. 2021 Her narrator’s piercing, almost perverse self-awareness makes the action both more sad and more urgent. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Why do women stay with toxic men? A debut novel has some uncomfortable answers," 3 Mar. 2021 But as states continue to enforce strict salon restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19, the days of walking into your local tattoo parlor or piercing studio with your sister and getting quickie cartilage piercings are over. Megan Decker, refinery29.com, "The 5 Top Piercing Trends Pros Are Predicting For 2021," 20 Jan. 2021 The breaking of the wall of fear and the piercing of decades of stagnation by populations that suddenly realized their political power unleashed a dreamscape of possibility. Paul Salem, Time, "Why the Arab Spring Failed—And Why It May Yet Succeed," 6 Jan. 2021 The star's first attempt at a nose piercing didn’t quite turn out as planned. Sarah Midkiff, refinery29.com, "Chrissy Teigen Is Bringing Back The Nose Stud In 2021," 4 Jan. 2021 But Hitchcock’s piercing assessment jibes with Eyman’s thesis that the legendary leading man was, even more than most Hollywood stars, a pure invention. Barbara Spindel, The Christian Science Monitor, "Cary Grant’s charm was legendary, but his best character was actually himself," 10 Nov. 2020

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

7 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Piercing.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/piercing. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for piercing



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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