tren·​chant | \ ˈtren-chənt How to pronounce trenchant (audio) \

Definition of trenchant

1 : keen, sharp
2 : vigorously effective and articulate a trenchant analysis also : caustic trenchant remarks
3a : sharply perceptive : penetrating a trenchant view of current conditions
b : clear-cut, distinct the trenchant divisions between right and wrong— Edith Wharton

Other Words from trenchant

trenchantly adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for trenchant



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did you know?

The word trenchant comes from the Anglo-French verb trencher, meaning "to cut," and may ultimately derive from the Vulgar Latin trinicare, meaning "to cut in three." Hence, a trenchant sword is one with a keen edge; a trenchant remark is one that cuts deep; and a trenchant observation is one that cuts to the heart of the matter. Relatives of trenchant in English include the noun trench ("a long ditch cut into the ground") and the verb retrench ("to cut down or pare away" or "to cut down expenses").

Examples of trenchant in a Sentence

a writer with a trenchant wit even the most trenchant sword could not sever the bonds of loyalty between them
Recent Examples on the Web They Live cuts its trenchant social critique with action-movie silliness — case in point: an infamous, hilarious fight sequence that goes on for six minutes for no particular reason — and highly quotable dialogue. Katie Rife,, 17 June 2022 Written and to be directed by Passó, a playwright, director and actress, a movie that delivers a trenchant family metaphor for Brazil. John Hopewell, Variety, 25 May 2022 The trenchant comedy is a tough love letter to their native Bay Area, about two best friends navigating gentrification, police brutality and a shifting sense of belonging. Naveen Kumar, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 June 2022 Journalists and activists like Aakar Patel and Rana Ayyub, who have been trenchant critics of India’s government, have been piled with look-out notices and subjected to probes. Manavi Kapur, Quartz, 15 Apr. 2022 The compendium of National Review journalism expressing a trenchant hostility to despotism is legendary. Peter J. Travers, National Review, 29 Mar. 2022 The bossa nova pattern and strings return, but the general tranquility is interrupted by a trenchant guitar solo about halfway through, only to restore its former quietude a little while later. Grant Sharples, SPIN, 6 Apr. 2022 Her trenchant belief that America was indispensable to global peace and progress led Albright to support military action against Iraq in 1998 and Serbia in 1999. Peter Harris, The Conversation, 24 Mar. 2022 Its thoughts on class warfare and the complacent villainy of the one percent, too, don't feel particularly fresh or trenchant in the recent wake of far sharper takes by the likes of Parasite and HBO's White Lotus. Leah Greenblatt,, 18 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'trenchant.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of trenchant

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for trenchant

Middle English trenchaunt, from Anglo-French, present participle of trencher

Learn More About trenchant

Time Traveler for trenchant

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About trenchant

Dictionary Entries Near trenchant



trench artillery

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for trenchant

Last Updated

28 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Trenchant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on trenchant

Nglish: Translation of trenchant for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!