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 conversation became even more piercing when Bullock queried the very gesture of gathering black singers to deliberate age-old racial disparities. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "Musicians and Composers Respond to a Chaotic Moment," 29 June 2020 As these public reviews become more commonplace, there is reason to hope that preprints will elicit more piercing criticism than typically happens at journals, particularly for sensationalistic papers by famous people. Simine Vazire, Wired, "Peer-Reviewed Scientific Journals Don't Really Do Their Job," 25 June 2020 The tactical team opened the operation with a stinger grenade, an explosive device that emits a piercing sound, a blinding light and rubber pellets, and then spews smoke. Thalia Beaty, ProPublica, "Somebody’s Gotta Help Me”," 16 June 2020 Majumdar writes these scenes with a piercing homesickness for a life Jivan may never know. Grace Z. Li, USA TODAY, "Review: Three lives entwined by a terrorist attack in Megha Majumdar's powerful 'A Burning'," 1 June 2020 Despite all that unrequited devotion filling the frame, the most piercing love story here (along with the one between Ellie and her father) is that of Ellie and Paul, a mismatched pair who become close friends over the course of the movie. Mary Sollosi, EW.com, "How The Half of It's director made a ‘humanistic’ teen queer romance," 1 May 2020 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Indoor massage businesses, tattoo and piercing services, outdoor family entertainment centers, drive-in movies and outdoor tour buses and boats can also reopen on Sept. 14. Rusty Simmons, SFChronicle.com, "SF to open indoor hair and nail salons, gyms, and hotels next week," 10 Sep. 2020 Some counties are prohibiting other personal care businesses, such as electrolysis, tattooing, piercing, microblading, permanent make-up and other invasive body art, from reopening. Rusty Simmons, SFChronicle.com, "Hopeful Bay Area shoppers descend on newly reopened indoor malls, hair salons," 31 Aug. 2020 The budget-friendly HRT has a double-edge blade that’s ideal for piercing and stabbing. James Lynch And Adrienne Donica, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Survival Knives to Get You Through Any Adventure or Disaster," 28 May 2020 Startled by the piercing sound, the Gorsuch party opened fire at the window, hoping either to incapacitate Eliza with a bullet wound or frighten her into silence. James Delle, Smithsonian Magazine, "In 1851, a Maryland Farmer Tried to Kidnap Free Blacks in Pennsylvania. He Wasn’t Expecting the Neighborhood to Fight Back," 17 Jan. 2020 Brian Penn, the shop owner, was offering $10 piercings to walk-ins to his nearly 40,000 Instagram followers for the first day back open, and many people were taking advantage. Richard Fausset, New York Times, "Businesses Tiptoe Into a World of Masks, Gloves and Wary Customers," 11 Apr. 2020 For those with recent tattoos and piercings, the deferral period changed from 12 months to three months. Alyssa Stoney, azcentral, "FDA loosens restrictions on blood donations by gay men and others during crisis," 2 Apr. 2020 Their 17-year-old daughter, who’d become a theater performer in Athens, has tattoos and piercings. Chico Harlan, Washington Post, "For migrants giving up on Europe, Greece offers a way out: voluntary deportation," 8 Nov. 2019 Throughout the production the cast's faces are projected on screens that fill the entire stage, giving the audience close observation of their piercings and tattoos, designed by Andrew Sotomayor. Maxwell Losgar, Marie Claire, "Costume Designer An D’Huys on Creating West Side Story’s Contemporary Look," 6 Mar. 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

Cite this Entry

“Piercing.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/piercing. Accessed 1 Oct. 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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