tru·​cu·​lent ˈtrə-kyə-lənt How to pronounce truculent (audio)
 also  ˈtrü-
: aggressively self-assertive : belligerent
: scathingly harsh : vitriolic
truculent criticism
: feeling or displaying ferocity : cruel, savage
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, 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 ("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 Mexico City is so inept, so compromised by the cartels, and so truculent that joint military action seems a pipe dream. Christian Schneider, National Review, 21 Dec. 2023 Chinese forces have adopted a truculent approach to prosecuting those claims. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, 23 Oct. 2023 The truculent trio are all using the same tired bingo card of victimization politics that Donald Trump keeps in his breast pocket. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, 11 Oct. 2023 The truculent and diffident teen-ager, all floppy hair and hormones, disruptively acts out his frustrations, while nonetheless becoming a good big brother to the two girls; meanwhile, his sparks of playful flirtation with Anne ignite an uncontrollable conflagration of desire. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 6 Oct. 2023 Over the course of the novel the reader will also meet Seamus, an impassioned and truculent MFA student in poetry, the dancers Fatima and Noah, and a closeted local older man, the violent, unpredictable and enigmatic Bert. Hazlitt, 31 May 2023 He’d been deemed too truculent to mix with tourists. Burkhard Bilger, The New Yorker, 27 Mar. 2023 My first column, published in June 2020, covered DeSantis’ truculent defense of his management of the COVID-19 pandemic in his state. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 17 May 2023 In the show, Chao plays the truculent, egoistic chef Lucy Dang. Coralie Kraft, New York Times, 20 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'truculent.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

circa 1540, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of truculent was circa 1540


Dictionary Entries Near truculent

Cite this Entry

“Truculent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


tru·​cu·​lent ˈtrək-yə-lənt How to pronounce truculent (audio)
 also  ˈtrük-
: ready and willing to fight or quarrel
truculently adverb

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