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

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Other Words from trenchant

trenchantly adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for trenchant



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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 But Letter puts a trenchant spin on it, finding not sorrow but pure yearning in the grooves of this decision. Alison Willmore, Vulture, "The 101 Greatest Endings in Movies History," 22 Feb. 2021 Woven into the cinematic fabric (Insecure star Lena Waithe has optioned motion picture rights) is a trenchant examination of race and privilege in late-stage capitalism. Chloe Schama, Vogue, "The Best Books Vogue Editors Read in 2020," 24 Dec. 2020 Whether swaggering blues, melancholy meditations or pop-culture poetry, the bard is still delivering trenchant, fresh and confoundingly provocative music at age 79. Jon Bream Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Best music of the worst year: Our music critics' favorite albums and songs of 2020," 17 Dec. 2020 But this retrospective devoted to Donald Judd — a trenchant art critic as well as a maker of pristine, industrial-looking three-dimensional objects — left a deep impression. Washington Post, "Best visual art of 2020: Sublime Degas, spellbinding El Greco, Dorothea Lange and a defining video for our time," 9 Dec. 2020 Always, the references were germane to our conversation or a trenchant comment on the most pressing issues and crises of our time. Nr Symposium, National Review, "Men of Heroic Virtue Can Live in the World Today — Andrew Walther Did," 6 Dec. 2020 Oxford History of Western Music, overflowing with detailed knowledge and trenchant opinion, which in Cursed Questions, his new collection of essays, he cheerily refers to as The Ox. Nicholas Kenyon, The New York Review of Books, "What Matters in Music?," 1 Dec. 2020 These days, there is, to be sure, no shortage of studies of white supremacy, from the trenchant scholarship of Alexandra Minna Stern and Kathleen Belew to the powerful reporting of Vegas Tenold and David Neiwert. Scott W. Stern, The New Republic, "A Mission to Expose Far-Right Hate," 28 Oct. 2020 But its members were best known as trenchant conservative ideologues, preaching austerity and refusing to cede ground on social issues. Elaina Plott, New York Times, "Win or Lose, It’s Donald Trump’s Republican Party," 27 Oct. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for trenchant

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

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Last Updated

28 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Trenchant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of trenchant

formal : very strong, clear, and effective

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