1 of 2


pierc·​ing ˈpir-siŋ How to pronounce piercing (audio)
: penetrating: such as
: loud, shrill
piercing cries
: perceptive
piercing eyes
: penetratingly cold : biting
a piercing wind
: cutting, incisive
piercing sarcasm
piercingly adverb


2 of 2


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

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
The sad and piercing voice of the funeral crier continued, reciting the phrases over and over, and very soon the cries of women and children filled the night air. Mohammed Naseehu Ali, The New Yorker, 25 Mar. 2024 For the piercing and tattoo shop, that changeover started last September with checking the building's insulation and air sealing to determine what size heat pumps were needed. Jeff Brady, NPR, 4 Mar. 2024 Compulsively readable, wildly entertaining, and filled with sharp social insight, The List is a piercing and dazzlingly clear-sighted debut about secrets, lies, and the internet. Sarah Yang, Sunset Magazine, 7 Feb. 2024 And what is more piercing than the face of Lily Gladstone, as the camera captures the shifting tones of her interior process, seamlessly embodying the courageous Mollie Burkhart. Nina Corcoran, Pitchfork, 13 Jan. 2024 Akbar makes such stories simultaneously funny and piercing and pathetic. Mark Athitakis, Los Angeles Times, 22 Jan. 2024 The movie’s most piercing moment is at once fictional (one hopes) and tethered to painful, unfantastical reality: Mahito, feeling hopeless and abandoned, suddenly lifts a stone and smashes it against the side of his head, drawing a cascade of blood and leaving a scar that lingers until movie’s end. Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times, 24 Nov. 2023 But here is a keen-eyed and piercing adaptation that may well transform the way readers of that novel’s fickle, feminist figure will forever understand Woolf’s legacy, on the page and on the screen. Manuel Betancourt, Variety, 17 Nov. 2023 This montage, like many throughout the film, develops a single piercing moment over a remarkably sustained span of time; these constructions conjure the power of memory itself by way of aesthetics. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 2 Nov. 2023
The trend: multiple hoops combined in one piece, giving the illusion of additional piercings without the need for secondary or tertiary holes. Mekaylah Yowpp-Hernacki, Vogue, 27 Mar. 2024 But none of the objects interpreted as piercings had previously been directly associated with body parts where they may have been worn. Mindy Weisberger, CNN, 11 Mar. 2024 But that’s not all: Each middle finger was complete with literal hoop piercings. Danielle Sinay, Glamour, 7 Mar. 2024 Some companies suggest using their emu oil on body piercings, but it has not been specifically studied. Elizabeth Barnes, Verywell Health, 28 Feb. 2024 Stepping through the gates and into the walled maze of Kotor’s Old Town is another piercing of the veil between past and present. Meagan Drillinger, Travel + Leisure, 24 Feb. 2024 Aftercare Your aftercare in the days and weeks following the piercing is most important. Madeleine Burry, Health, 1 Feb. 2024 Nipple piercings take longer than other body piercings to help. Madeleine Burry, Health, 1 Feb. 2024 With her was Samantha Strong, a young activist with a green buzz cut and piercings. E. Tammy Kim, The New Yorker, 15 Jan. 2024

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

Word History

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined above


1977, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near piercing

Cite this Entry

“Piercing.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/piercing. Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
: having the ability to enter, pierce, or penetrate: as
: loud and shrill
piercing screams
: perceptive, keen
a piercing glance
: very cold
a piercing wind


2 of 2 noun
: a piece of jewelry (as a ring or stud) that is attached to pierced flesh

More from Merriam-Webster on piercing

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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