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. 2002Milton—in his prose an opinionated and truculent writer—remains a magnet for opinionated and truculent criticism.— Helen Vendler, New Republic, 30 July 2001Within 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 1996Challenged 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
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.