\ ˈtrench How to pronounce trench (audio) \

Definition of trench

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a long cut in the ground : ditch especially : one used for military defense often with the excavated dirt thrown up in front
b trenches plural : a place, position, or level at which an activity is carried on in a manner likened to trench warfare often used in the phrase in the trenches activists working in the trenches
2 : a long, narrow, and usually steep-sided depression in the ocean floor — compare trough


trenched; trenching; trenches

Definition of trench (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to make a cut in : carve
2a : to protect with or as if with a trench
b : to cut a trench in : ditch

intransitive verb

1a : entrench, encroach trenching on other domains which were more vital— Sir Winston Churchill
b : to come close : verge
2 : to dig a trench

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Synonyms for trench

Synonyms: Noun

dike, ditch, fosse (or foss), gutter, sheugh [chiefly Scottish], trough

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Examples of trench in a Sentence


dug a trench and filled it with water in an attempt to keep the forest fire off her property

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Behind that big smile on opening night is thousands of hours of frowning alone in the trenches of their mundane craft. Ashley Lee,, "Anais Mitchell on the very public evolution of ‘Hadestown’ in the digital age," 4 June 2019 Jost is deep in the trenches with SNL while Johansson has four projects in the works, according to IMDb. Anna Moeslein, Glamour, "Scarlett Johansson Just Revealed She’s Engaged to SNL’s Colin Jost," 20 May 2019 Duchess Meghan selected a Wales Bonner trench dress, Manolo Blahnik pumps, and a gold-and-turquoise Jennifer Meyer necklace for the occasion. Omid Scobie, Harper's BAZAAR, "Inside Duchess Meghan & Prince Harry's Intimate Photo Shoot with Baby Sussex," 8 May 2019 The natural-beauty entrepreneur on a $1,300 Khaite trench dress with a surprising back. Rory Satran, WSJ, "10 Stylish Women on Essential Investment-Fashion Pieces," 27 Sep. 2018 That’s evident in pieces like the slick trouser-and-matching-shirt combo or their trench dress, which both use a super lightweight fabric that looks like patent leather from afar but has the heft of a trashbin liner. Diana Tsui, The Cut, "The Deadhead-Approved European Brand to Know," 27 Apr. 2018 Or a basic-but-not-boring trench and a totally out-of-this-world, definition-of-spurge-worthy bag? Vogue, "Shop the Spring Trends Vogue Editors Want Now, From Denim Bike Shorts to Strappy Sandals," 14 Mar. 2019 The photo channels Sandiego PERFECTLY, down to the fashionable red trench and red hat. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Gina Rodriguez Posed as Carmen Sandiego to Celebrate the Launch Of Her Netflix Series," 18 Jan. 2019 The leather-focused line includes 7 ready-to-wear pieces (coats, dresses, trenches and belts) and 9 shoe styles styles (driving shoes, heels, and boots). Isabel Greenberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Tod’s Is Launching Their First Factory Capsule Collection with Alessandro Dell’Acqua," 19 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

If the active layer of insulation is disturbed during construction (i.e., trenching), permafrost could be vulnerable to thermokarst and subsidence during the summer due to exposure to higher temperatures. Author: Elwood Brehmer, Anchorage Daily News, "Army Corps releases final EIS for in-state Alaska gasline," 24 June 2018 Many of Sunoco’s problems are related to its use of horizontal directional drilling (HDD) to install large sections of the Mariner East 2 pipeline, which was supposed to avoid the disruptions of conventional open-trenching construction method. Andrew Maykuth,, "Sunoco will temporarily relocate residents while it conducts pipeline sinkhole study," 2 Apr. 2018 Still in the plan is the suggestion to trench the downtown railroad tracks. Phil Diehl,, "More walking, less parking in Carlsbad's latest Village-Barrio plan," 7 Feb. 2018 That idea also is being studied for Carlsbad, where a recent study estimated the cost of trenching at a minimum of $224 million, but with long-term economic benefits in the billions. Phil Diehl,, "Work starts soon on Oceanside 'quiet zone'," 18 Aug. 2017 Gas lines will be relocated starting July 20 and the earth retention contractor will mobilize on the site and begin trenching the week of July 24. Kimberly Fornek,, "Hinsdale Middle School construction costs raise questions of village's share for parking deck," 17 July 2017 Over the years, human remains have been found nearby, most recently those of five individuals uncovered during trenching work last year on another project immediately across Fourth Street. Tom Lochner, The Mercury News, "Berkeley Shellmound EIR prompts call for do-over from landmarks commission," 8 Feb. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'trench.' 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 trench


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for trench


Middle English trenche track cut through a wood, from Anglo-French, act of cutting, ditch, from trencher, trenchier to cut, probably from Vulgar Latin *trinicare to cut in three, from Latin trini three each — more at trine

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Statistics for trench

Last Updated

11 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for trench

The first known use of trench was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for trench



English Language Learners Definition of trench

: a long, narrow hole that is dug in the ground
: a deep, narrow hole in the ground that is used as protection for soldiers
: a long, narrow hole in the ocean floor


\ ˈtrench How to pronounce trench (audio) \

Kids Definition of trench

: a long narrow ditch

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More from Merriam-Webster on trench

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with trench

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for trench

Spanish Central: Translation of trench

Nglish: Translation of trench for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of trench for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about trench

Comments on trench

What made you want to look up trench? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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