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 The Wolf of Wall Street just might be the most trenchant film made about America’s last decade. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The 10 Best Movie Scenes of the 2010s," 31 Dec. 2019 This is a book that’s trenchant and intelligent; wry but not glib; humane but never indulgent. New York Times, "Times Critics’ Top Books of 2019," 5 Dec. 2019 The Internet was overwhelmed with trenchant, and cutting, critiques from legal experts. Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, "Republicans Trash Trump on Syria—but Not Ukraine," 10 Oct. 2019 Those two abodes are at the center of Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, a loopily brilliant drama that might be the most thrilling film of the year—as well as the funniest and the most trenchant. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The Less You Know About Parasite, The Better," 10 Oct. 2019 Blending trenchant social critique with real scares and satirical humor, Get Out announced Peele's entrance as a horror filmmaker with vision. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "Will Jordan Peele’s Five-Year Universal Pact Let Him Play With Classic Monsters?," 1 Oct. 2019 The debate goes to whether theatrical moviegoing on a wide commercial scale can still be saved — a point that has seemed increasingly trenchant with Disney now having the four highest-grossing domestic movies of the year for a total of $2 billion. Steven Zeitchik, Washington Post, "A modern box-office mystery: What to read into the numbers of ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood?’," 2 Aug. 2019 The Purists’’ that manages to be trenchant, topical, substantive, and consistently funny at the same time., "THE PURISTS," 13 Sep. 2019 Rather, his art is vigorous and trenchant, flecked with wit and irony, and passionately engaged with the larger history of art, from van Gogh and Matisse to Francis Bacon and Robert Rauschenberg. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, "This Native American artist should have been a household name. But he died at 31.," 21 Aug. 2019

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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Statistics for trenchant

Last Updated

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Trenchant.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 2020.

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How to pronounce trenchant (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of trenchant

formal : very strong, clear, and effective

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with trenchant

Spanish Central: Translation of trenchant

Nglish: Translation of trenchant for Spanish Speakers

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