\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for trench

Synonyms: Noun

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

The line mostly dominated in the trenches, keeping Slovis well protected. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, "Clay Helton and USC wary of trap game against BYU after big win over Stanford," 13 Sep. 2019 Yes, Michigan State has one of the best defensive lines in football, and that unit will have a massive edge in the trenches. Max Meyer,, "College Football Week 3 Best Bets: Take Advantage of Inflated Lines," 11 Sep. 2019 Under Mario Cristobal, Oregon is building something formidable in the trenches. George Schroeder, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Auburn freshman Bo Nix provides reprieve, hope for Gus Malzahn, Tigers," 1 Sep. 2019 After disappointment for the baseball team the previous year, the Spartans moved through the trenches of the Division III playoffs with a pair of extra-inning victories to make its first final appearance in program history. Vincent Nguyen, La Cañada Valley Sun, "Looking Back: La Cañada teams fueled off pressure for successful campaigns," 24 July 2019 As for Texas, the biggest key on defense will be the battles in the trenches. Nick Moyle,, "Texas keeping focus inward ahead of season opener," 30 Aug. 2019 The Auburn-Oregon game will be settled in the trenches. oregonlive, "Saturday’s game against Auburn is a chance for Oregon coach Mario Cristobal to make good: Issues & Answers," 30 Aug. 2019 The Panthers went a perfect 13-0 en route to the Class 6A state title last season but graduated plenty from that team, particularly in the trenches. Jace Frederick, Twin Cities, "Surprise! RaJa Nelson quarterbacks Lakeville North past Woodbury," 29 Aug. 2019 Denison said after the game that the offensive line won the battle in the trenches to sway the game. David J. Kim, The Courier-Journal, "What to know about each of the Week 2 Southern Indiana football games," 28 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The estimated cost of trenching the railroad tracks is $441 million. Melissa Yeager, azcentral, "Sky Harbor Airport's $5.7 billion, 20-year plan: Double the capacity, add 'bus gates'," 7 Jan. 2019 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about trench

Statistics for trench

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for trench

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


concealment of treason or felony

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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