tru·​cu·​lent | \ ˈtrə-kyə-lənt also ˈtrü- How to pronounce truculent (audio) \

Definition of truculent

1 : aggressively self-assertive : belligerent
2 : scathingly harsh : vitriolic truculent criticism
3 : feeling or displaying ferocity : cruel, savage

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from truculent

truculently adverb

Did You Know?

Truculent derives from "truculentus," a form of the Latin adjective trux, meaning "savage." It has been used in English since the 16th century to describe people or things that are cruel and ferocious, such as tyrannical leaders or wars, and has also come to mean "deadly or destructive" (as in "a truculent disease"). In current use, however, it has lost much of its etymological fierceness. It now frequently serves to describe speech or writing that is notably harsh (as in "truculent criticism") or a person who is notably self-assertive and surly (such as "a truculent schoolboy"). Some usage commentators have criticized these extended uses because they do not match the savagery of the word's original sense, but they are well-established and perfectly standard.

Examples of truculent in a Sentence

The hard work is to demonstrate exactly how the outsize Churchillian personality, so truculent, so impulsive, so often profoundly wrongheaded, became, in the dark spring of 1940, just what was needed for national survival. — Simon Schama, New York Review of Books, 28 Feb. 2002 Milton—in his prose an opinionated and truculent writer—remains a magnet for opinionated and truculent criticism. — Helen Vendler, New Republic, 30 July 2001 Within a year of publishing The Female Eunuch, she had debated Norman Mailer in a truculent disputation at Town Hall in New York, turned up on the cover of Life magazine as the "saucy feminist that even men like," and inspired innumerable women to stop wearing underpants. — Margaret Talbot, New Republic, 31 May 1999 … in the breast pocket of her police uniform she carried a small silver figurine of Durga, the Hindu goddess of shakti: power and strength. Defiant and truculent, she flashed a cheeky grin. — Mary Anne Weaver, Atlantic, November 1996 Challenged to a fight by a truculent layabout on the playing fields of St. James's primary school one Saturday, he had replied to his aggressor's taunts with his own war cries … — Wole Soyinka, Isara, 1989 die-hard fans who became truculent and violent after their team's loss a theater critic who was notorious for his titanically truculent reviews
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

From such early human-animal relationships came many generations of breeding in which people bred animals with the most beneficial traits and discarded the undersized, truculent, or otherwise undesirable creatures. Natasha Daly, National Geographic, "Domesticated animals, explained," 4 July 2019 Their reaction is a truculent reassertion of popular sovereignty. Adam Tooze, The New York Review of Books, "Democracy and Its Discontents," 6 June 2019 David Greybeard is inclined to become truculent in the rain. National Geographic, "Jane Goodall’s original tale of chimpanzees still astonishes today," 17 Apr. 2019 His earliest instructor was a truculent Marine captain who preached raw violence, which helped on the revenge front but which left Kamen desiring a deeper spiritual connection with the craft. Alex Prewitt,, "The Crane Kick Is Bogus: A Karate Kid Oral History," 1 May 2018 North Korea's truculent statement came in response to an interview in which John Bolton, Trump's new national security advisor, cited Libya as a model for disarmament — a parallel that unnerved and angered Kim. Eli Stokols,, "Trump casts doubt on U.S.-North Korea summit as he meets with South Korea's Moon to salvage it," 22 May 2018 Twenty-one years later, though, the U.S. military invaded to oust Torrijos’s truculent successor, Manuel Noriega, and install a more pliant regime. Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, "The Diplomat Who Quit the Trump Administration," 19 May 2018 His aggressive style and truculent treatment of Premier League referees made him an imposing figure for any opposition., "Pascal Chimbonda and 24 Other Classic Premier League Players You'd Forgotten: No. 9 - Luís Boa Morte," 10 May 2018 There are those in Paris who will tell you—without any irony whatsoever—that the story of Pierre Bergé is the story of France in the second half of the 20th century: often incorrigible, sometimes truculent, always ascendant. James Mcauley, Town & Country, "Was Pierre Bergé the Most Powerful Man In France?," 8 Sep. 2017

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

circa 1540, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for truculent

Latin truculentus, from truc-, trux savage; perhaps akin to Middle Irish trú doomed person

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about truculent

Listen to Our Podcast about truculent

Statistics for truculent

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for truculent

The first known use of truculent was circa 1540

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for truculent



English Language Learners Definition of truculent

: easily annoyed or angered and likely to argue

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on truculent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for truculent

Spanish Central: Translation of truculent

Nglish: Translation of truculent for Spanish Speakers

Comments on truculent

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


something desired as essential

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!