1. loud or shrill, as the quality of a voice.
  2. extremely cold or bitter: a piercing wind.
  3. appearing to gaze deeply or penetratingly into something: piercing eyes.
  4. perceptive or aware; acute: a piercing mind.
  5. sarcastic or caustic; cutting: piercing remarks.

verb (used with object), pierced, pierc·ing.

  1. to penetrate into or run through (something), as a sharp, pointed dagger, object, or instrument does.
  2. to make a hole or opening in.
  3. to bore into or through; tunnel.
  4. to perforate.
  5. to make (a hole, opening, etc.) by or as by boring or perforating.
  6. to make a way or path into or through: a road that pierces the dense jungle.
  7. to penetrate with the eye or mind; see into or through: She couldn’t pierce his thoughts.
  8. to affect sharply with some sensation or emotion, as of cold, pain, or grief: The wind pierced her body. Her words pierced our hearts.
  9. to sound sharply through (the air, stillness, etc.): A pistol shot pierced the night.

verb (used without object), pierced, pierc·ing.

  1. to force or make a way into or through something; penetrate: to pierce to the heart.


  1. (of a sound) sharp and shrill
  2. (of eyes or a look) intense and penetrating
  3. (of an emotion) strong and deeply affecting
  4. (of cold or wind) intense or biting


  1. the art or practice of piercing body parts for the insertion of jewellery
  2. an instance of the piercing of a body part

verb (mainly tr)

  1. to form or cut (a hole) in (something) with or as if with a sharp instrument
  2. to thrust into or penetrate sharply or violentlythe thorn pierced his heel
  3. to force (a way, route, etc) through (something)
  4. (of light) to shine through or penetrate (darkness)
  5. (also intr) to discover or realize (something) suddenly or (of an idea) to become suddenly apparent
  6. (of sounds or cries) to sound sharply through (the silence)
  7. to move or affect (a person’s emotions, bodily feelings, etc) deeply or sharplythe cold pierced their bones
  8. (intr) to penetrate or be capable of penetratingpiercing cold


  1. Franklin. 1804–69, US statesman; 14th president of the US (1853–57)

adj.in reference to cold, sound, etc., early 15c., present participle adjective from pierce (v.). Figuratively, of pain, grief, etc., from late 14c. Related: Piercingly. n.late 14c., verbal noun from pierce (v.). v.late 13c. “make a hole in; force one’s way through,” from Anglo-French perser, Old French percier “pierce, transfix, drive through” (12c., Modern French percer), probably from Vulgar Latin *pertusiare, frequentative of Latin pertusus, past participle of pertundere “to thrust or bore through,” from per- “through” (see per) + tundere “to beat, pound,” from PIE *tund-, from root *(s)teu- “to push, strike, knock, beat, thrust” (see obtuse). Related: Pierced; piercing.

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