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

Synonyms for piercing

Synonyms: Adjective

biting, bitter, cutting, keen, penetrating, raw, sharp, shrewd, smarting, stinging

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Examples of piercing in a Sentence


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.


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

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 But his piercing skill was enough to instill fear in the Panamanian soccer team, which responded with brute force in a 1-1 draw with the United States on Tuesday night. David Waldstein, New York Times, "Christian Pulisic of U.S. Becomes a Target, but Makes His Mark Anyway," 29 Mar. 2017 More muscles and more lustrous hair and more piercing eyes. Kenzie Bryant, Vanities, "Jon Hamm Wants to Prove How Many Beautiful People Are Funny, Too," 19 June 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Personal care services such as manicures, pedicures, hair removal, tattoos, body piercing and massages. cleveland.com, "Ohio charges sales tax on Amazon Prime memberships, a ton of other services: Money Matters," 12 June 2019 Simple: few works of literature since Homer can match the piercing, unshakably humane gaze that Grossman turns on the haggard face of war. The Economist, "Vasily Grossman, the greatest bard of the second world war," 7 June 2019 Now, check out these stories about piercings: Done reading? Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "A Man Had Part of His Ear Cut Out in a Controversial “Conch Removal” Procedure," 28 Mar. 2019 But the four-ish minutes of TV was mesmerizing, a strange piercing of the Bravo forcefield that usually manages to keep the goings-on of the real world separate from besmirching the antics of its cast. Bridget Read, Vogue, "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," 17 Apr. 2019 The mother and daughter eventually left without a piercing after Marks took a step away from the situation. Glamour, "Former Claire’s Employee Says Store’s Child Ear-Piercing Policy Is ‘Deeply Flawed’," 10 Apr. 2019 And even physically, like the way they're described in the book, their faces are full of piercings and all this stuff. Gabe Bergado, Teen Vogue, "Josephine Langford on the Romance of "After," Bringing to Life Tessa, and Crying Fans," 22 Apr. 2019 With multiple piercings and an ear-gage, Maximus brought a stylish edge to collections like Dior. Vogue, "Meet the Top 14 Models of Fall 2019," 13 Mar. 2019 His tattoos, piercings, gender-fluid dress and ever-changing hair color were virtually unheard of at the time and drew almost as much attention as his ability to read the trajectory of a shot and get the rebound. Katherine Rosenberg-douglas, chicagotribune.com, "Ex-Chicago Bulls star turned North Korean, uh, diplomat Dennis Rodman weeps over Kim-Trump summit," 12 June 2018

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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Statistics for piercing

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Time Traveler for piercing

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

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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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Comments on piercing

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