Definition of pierce in English:



[with object]
  • 1(of a sharp pointed object) go into or through (something)

    ‘a splinter had pierced the skin’
    • ‘As the door closed behind me there was a shot and the wood from the door exploded into a few dozen splinters that pierced the back of my neck.’
    • ‘David felt for his neck; there were indeed two punctures, evidence of two sharp objects piercing his neck.’
    • ‘She fell on to her side, not caring about the sharp rocks piercing her thin side.’
    • ‘Aridene screamed in pain as the needle pierced her skin and the chloral hydrate entered her bloodstream.’
    • ‘Leaves rustled out of the branches and before any bullets were pierced into her skin she jumped onto another branch.’
    • ‘Thane roared when two nettle like things pierced his shoulder skin.’
    • ‘It felt as if little needles of white-hot heat had entered his skin and pierced his nerves.’
    • ‘Since the tyre is tougher than a tube, it takes a long time for the air to escape from it when it is pierced by something sharp.’
    • ‘With a sharp jab, Jake pierced the skin on her forearm, leaving a small puncture mark.’
    • ‘She heard him curse, felt him grab her arm, then felt the blinding pain of the knife piercing her flesh.’
    • ‘The sharp bladed end pierces the wood easily and went straight through.’
    • ‘The wolf growled at me and I bit the corner of my lip, feeling the blood draining from my arm as the animal's sharp teeth pierced my skin.’
    • ‘Splinters pierced his porcelain fingertips, such terrible reminders to what had happened only hours before.’
    • ‘I felt a sharp pain as the blade pierced my skin and the warm blood began dripping down my torso.’
    • ‘It was like a million sharp needles were piercing my skin, and I began to scream aloud.’
    • ‘An arrow struck Lysander's helmet but didn't pierce its metal skin, and he fell unconscious from the blow.’
    • ‘Once the skins are removed, pierce a cross shape in the root ends with the tip of a sharp knife - this will keep the shallots whole as they cook.’
    • ‘As soon as she touched it, she felt a sharp splinter pierce her thumb.’
    • ‘She bit her lip, digging her sharp canine into the soft skin, piercing it all the harder as she lapsed into deeper thought.’
    • ‘The bottom of the actuating rod has a sharp point, which pierces the gas cylinder release valve.’
    make a hole in, penetrate, puncture, punch, perforate, riddle, stab, prick, probe, gore, spike, stick, impale, transfix, bore, bore through, drill, drill through, lance, tap
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    1. 1.1 Make (a hole) with a sharp instrument.
      ‘I had to pierce another hole in my belt’
      • ‘A hole is pierced through the skin and cartilage of the nostril.’
      • ‘It's primarily used for exactly the reason you used it: to pierce a hole in leather or, sometimes, wood.’
      • ‘Drills can also be used for pierced work, and the hole allows access for different blades according to the degree of refinement of the decoration.’
      • ‘Rain bars are long tubes pierced with spray holes.’
      • ‘Other methods entail tying increasingly tighter pieces of thread through a pierced hole or cutting with a laser.’
      • ‘The holes would be pierced right through all the sheets.’
      • ‘The ball the schoolboys originally swatted was a globe of vulcanized India rubber pierced with a hole.’
      • ‘When the pan is nearly dry, remove from heat and cover with tin foil with some holes pierced in it.’
      • ‘He husks and cleans a coconut and pours the milk out through a small pierced hole.’
      • ‘Transfer to a wire rack and pierce a tiny hole in each gougère using a sharp knife, to release any trapped steam.’
      • ‘Through a hole pierced in the centre of the sheet, water would trickle into the vessel kept beneath it.’
      • ‘Feed the other end of the cord up through the pierced hole in the bottom of the flap.’
      • ‘This analysis was performed by following the displacement of holes pierced with fine needles in the basal part of the leaf as presented earlier but extended here for very young leaves.’
      • ‘All concrete surfaces should be pierced at regular distances so that rainwater percolates into the ground.’
      • ‘Remove from oven and use a skewer or satay stick to pierce the thickest part of the turkey.’
      make a hole in, penetrate, puncture, punch, perforate, riddle, stab, prick, probe, gore, spike, stick, impale, transfix, bore, bore through, drill, drill through, lance, tap
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    2. 1.2 Make a hole in (the ears or other part of the body) so as to wear jewellery in them.
      ‘I pierced my nose and ears’
      • ‘I'm going to get my ears pierced so I can wear one of those cool crosses.’
      • ‘Parents would rather their kids go in for glitter as they feel it is a better option to piercing or tattooing the body.’
      • ‘The doctor had dreadlocks, pierced ears and nose and tattoos everywhere.’
      • ‘Both ears were pierced, but she wore no earrings.’
      • ‘She had a nose ring on and her ears were pierced at least 8 times each.’
      • ‘His ears were pierced with two holes in his earlobes, and on the top of his left ear he had a ring.’
      • ‘The faces have bold curled nostrils and fantastic tipped-out ears, which are pierced at the earlobes for earrings and ornament.’
      • ‘A concerned mother is calling for new laws to stop children having their bodies pierced without parental permission.’
      • ‘The risks associated with piercing one's ears, for instance, are comprehensible and acceptable to the masses.’
      • ‘She had pierced ears but wore neither studs nor earrings and there was no jewellery.’
      • ‘Sixteen to 18 year olds could have other parts of their bodies pierced provided they had clearly verifiable permission from a parent or guardian.’
      • ‘There is a scene in which he must pierce her ears to wear the borrowed earring, and it is shockingly erotic.’
      • ‘His left ear was pierced; and he wore a black hoodie and parachute pants.’
      • ‘She had natural teeth and both ears were pierced, but she was not wearing earrings.’
      • ‘Her ears were pierced all the way up and she had a nose ring.’
      • ‘Men may have their noses pierced and wear wild pig or boar tusks.’
      • ‘On this Tamil festival, penitents pierce their bodies, tongues, and cheeks while some march on shoes of nails.’
      • ‘His head had a halo of curls at the bottom and both his ears were pierced with spike earrings.’
      • ‘Both of his ears were pierced, and he was wearing a black and silver chain.’
      • ‘The most common parts of the body that are pierced is the face although you will often find ear, nose and lip ornaments.’
      make a hole in, punch holes in, put holes in, perforate, puncture, prick, hole, riddle, spike, skewer, spit, stick, pin, needle
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    3. 1.3 Make an opening in or bore a tunnel through.
      ‘the dividing wall is pierced by arches’
      • ‘For some unaccountable reason, someone has pierced a tunnel through the western end of the southern summit rock blade.’
      • ‘Their die-straight tunnels pierce the most awesome rock barriers nonchalantly.’
      • ‘An irregular elongated window pierces the massive back wall.’
      • ‘When it was built, the south church was constructed against the south wall of the earlier nuns' chapel, which was later pierced by arches.’
      • ‘The side walls of the original church were later pierced by arches of the Norman north and south arcades.’
      drill, perforate, puncture, punch, cut
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  • 2Force a way through; penetrate.

    ‘they were seeking to pierce the anti-ballistic-missile defences’
    ‘a shrill voice pierced the air’
    • ‘The continuous clicking of shutters pierced the icy Alpine air.’
    • ‘All that guided her right now was Jeff's comforting voice, piercing through the blackness, drawing her to him.’
    • ‘Even though her suddenly loud voice pierced through the silence, the others didn't stir.’
    • ‘Just then, a shrill voice pierced through the thick tension in the room.’
    • ‘Just as I hear the cry of my new baby pierce the air Trevor runs into the delivery room.’
    • ‘Shrieks of pain and anguish pierced the night and more yelling sounded as other survivors tried to put out the multiple fires before more were hurt.’
    • ‘I sighed as that deep masculine voice pierced through my thoughts.’
    • ‘The darkness in my eyes weakened and was pierced by a dim light.’
    • ‘Similar displays contrived by architects occur on almost any sunny day inside many cathedrals, when the sun pierces the highest windows and a thousand rays gleam down on the altar.’
    • ‘By recording the spectra of several distant quasars whose light pierces the Milky Way, the spacecraft revealed some 50 ultraviolet-absorbing gas clouds around our galaxy.’
    • ‘A beacon of light pierced the dark and the rain, coming from above the treetops.’
    • ‘As copious steam clouds and sharp hoots pierce the morning calm, an air of excitement and expectation is palpable among those who have got into the coaches.’
    • ‘It was an awful, shrill noise that pierced everyone's ears immediately and kept repeating in an unbelievably high and sharp pitch.’
    • ‘The girl clutched her head and let out a scream of pain that pierced the air, falling to her knees with tears spilling down her cheeks.’
    • ‘The sudden voice pierced through the hallway and I immediately dropped the card and spun around to face Devon's approaching figure.’
    • ‘The sweet voice pierced through his mind, and with it sweet memories of safety, understanding, and love.’
    • ‘Once more, his voice pierced through the air to reach Mary.’
    • ‘All was well and beautiful for the first 10 minutes, till a chorus of sharp voices pierced my champagne reverie.’
    • ‘Her voice pierced the Fire Master's ears, sending sparks of fury through his body.’
    • ‘The air of the huge chamber failed to be pierced by its glow.’
    penetrate, pass through, burst through, percolate, pervade, permeate, filter through, light up
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  • pierce someone's heart

    • Affect someone keenly or deeply.

      ‘pure love had pierced her heart’
      ‘I felt pierced to the heart, dejected and lonely’
      • ‘Something pierced my heart, a bitter memory of how my boyfriend left me a few years go.’
      • ‘But there's no way he could convey to us what he felt and what anguish and anxiety was piercing his heart.’
      • ‘Even when reduced to tears, he doesn't pierce your heart.’
      • ‘Today, however, she said something that just pierced my heart.’
      • ‘Considering what just happened it pierced my heart and left me feeling weary with fear.’


Middle English: from Old French percer, based on Latin pertus- ‘bored through’, from the verb pertundere, from per ‘through’ + tundere ‘thrust’.