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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web Faced with a liberal empire, overseen by a technocratic elite, the American people have become truculent. Thomas Meaney, Harper's magazine, "Trumpism After Trump," 20 Jan. 2020 In Brussels, Sondland garnered a reputation for his truculent manner and fondness for the trappings of privilege. Anchorage Daily News, "Texts show push to strong-arm Ukraine," 5 Oct. 2019 Right until the moment his life was extinguished, his art was truculent, bold, arresting and unassimilable. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, "This Native American artist should have been a household name. But he died at 31.," 21 Aug. 2019 According to reporting from Politico, Stephen Miller, one of President Trump’s most loyal and truculent policy advisors, has been the driving, hectoring force within the White House for this regulatory shift. Jackie Botts, The Mercury News, "What does Trump’s latest immigration crackdown mean for California?," 15 Aug. 2019 But that time frame has come and gone, raising the question of whether Pyongyang’s truculent behavior represents an about-face on its commitment to hold talks or simply a negotiating tactic ahead of the meetings. John Hudson, Washington Post, "North Korean saber-rattling dims euphoria of Trump’s DMZ meeting," 26 July 2019 But a growing and increasingly truculent segment of Iran’s population doubts the standoff is worth it. The Economist, "Backed into a corner, Iran is lashing out," 22 June 2019 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

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.

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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

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The first known use of truculent was circa 1540

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Last Updated

25 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Truculent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for truculent


How to pronounce truculent (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of truculent

: easily annoyed or angered and likely to argue

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