Definition of pierce in English:



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

    ‘a splinter had pierced the skin’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The bottom of the actuating rod has a sharp point, which pierces the gas cylinder release valve.’
    • ‘It was like a million sharp needles were piercing my skin, and I began to scream aloud.’
    • ‘I felt a sharp pain as the blade pierced my skin and the warm blood began dripping down my torso.’
    • ‘She bit her lip, digging her sharp canine into the soft skin, piercing it all the harder as she lapsed into deeper thought.’
    • ‘She heard him curse, felt him grab her arm, then felt the blinding pain of the knife piercing her flesh.’
    • ‘An arrow struck Lysander's helmet but didn't pierce its metal skin, and he fell unconscious from the blow.’
    • ‘Splinters pierced his porcelain fingertips, such terrible reminders to what had happened only hours before.’
    • ‘Leaves rustled out of the branches and before any bullets were pierced into her skin she jumped onto another branch.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The sharp bladed end pierces the wood easily and went straight through.’
    • ‘It felt as if little needles of white-hot heat had entered his skin and pierced his nerves.’
    • ‘With a sharp jab, Jake pierced the skin on her forearm, leaving a small puncture mark.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As soon as she touched it, she felt a sharp splinter pierce her thumb.’
    • ‘Aridene screamed in pain as the needle pierced her skin and the chloral hydrate entered her bloodstream.’
    • ‘She fell on to her side, not caring about the sharp rocks piercing her thin side.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Thane roared when two nettle like things pierced his shoulder skin.’
    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’
      • ‘The ball the schoolboys originally swatted was a globe of vulcanized India rubber pierced with a hole.’
      • ‘Feed the other end of the cord up through the pierced hole in the bottom of the flap.’
      • ‘When the pan is nearly dry, remove from heat and cover with tin foil with some holes pierced in it.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The holes would be pierced right through all the sheets.’
      • ‘A hole is pierced through the skin and cartilage of the nostril.’
      • ‘Rain bars are long tubes pierced with spray holes.’
      • ‘He husks and cleans a coconut and pours the milk out through a small pierced hole.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Other methods entail tying increasingly tighter pieces of thread through a pierced hole or cutting with a laser.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘All concrete surfaces should be pierced at regular distances so that rainwater percolates into the ground.’
      • ‘It's primarily used for exactly the reason you used it: to pierce a hole in leather or, sometimes, wood.’
      • ‘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.
      ‘a punk with a pierced nose’
      • ‘On this Tamil festival, penitents pierce their bodies, tongues, and cheeks while some march on shoes of nails.’
      • ‘Men may have their noses pierced and wear wild pig or boar tusks.’
      • ‘She had natural teeth and both ears were pierced, but she was not wearing earrings.’
      • ‘Sixteen to 18 year olds could have other parts of their bodies pierced provided they had clearly verifiable permission from a parent or guardian.’
      • ‘A concerned mother is calling for new laws to stop children having their bodies pierced without parental permission.’
      • ‘Both of his ears were pierced, and he was wearing a black and silver chain.’
      • ‘I'm going to get my ears pierced so I can wear one of those cool crosses.’
      • ‘There is a scene in which he must pierce her ears to wear the borrowed earring, and it is shockingly erotic.’
      • ‘Her ears were pierced all the way up and she had a nose ring.’
      • ‘Parents would rather their kids go in for glitter as they feel it is a better option to piercing or tattooing the body.’
      • ‘His ears were pierced with two holes in his earlobes, and on the top of his left ear he had a ring.’
      • ‘The risks associated with piercing one's ears, for instance, are comprehensible and acceptable to the masses.’
      • ‘His head had a halo of curls at the bottom and both his ears were pierced with spike earrings.’
      • ‘She had pierced ears but wore neither studs nor earrings and there was no jewellery.’
      • ‘The doctor had dreadlocks, pierced ears and nose and tattoos everywhere.’
      • ‘The faces have bold curled nostrils and fantastic tipped-out ears, which are pierced at the earlobes for earrings and ornament.’
      • ‘The most common parts of the body that are pierced is the face although you will often find ear, nose and lip ornaments.’
      • ‘She had a nose ring on and her ears were pierced at least 8 times each.’
      • ‘Both ears were pierced, but she wore no earrings.’
      • ‘His left ear was pierced; and he wore a black hoodie and parachute pants.’
      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’
      • ‘The side walls of the original church were later pierced by arches of the Norman north and south arcades.’
      • ‘Their die-straight tunnels pierce the most awesome rock barriers nonchalantly.’
      • ‘When it was built, the south church was constructed against the south wall of the earlier nuns' chapel, which was later pierced by arches.’
      • ‘For some unaccountable reason, someone has pierced a tunnel through the western end of the southern summit rock blade.’
      • ‘An irregular elongated window pierces the massive back wall.’
      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’
    • ‘A beacon of light pierced the dark and the rain, coming from above the treetops.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘All that guided her right now was Jeff's comforting voice, piercing through the blackness, drawing her to him.’
    • ‘Her voice pierced the Fire Master's ears, sending sparks of fury through his body.’
    • ‘It was an awful, shrill noise that pierced everyone's ears immediately and kept repeating in an unbelievably high and sharp pitch.’
    • ‘Just as I hear the cry of my new baby pierce the air Trevor runs into the delivery room.’
    • ‘The sweet voice pierced through his mind, and with it sweet memories of safety, understanding, and love.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The darkness in my eyes weakened and was pierced by a dim light.’
    • ‘The air of the huge chamber failed to be pierced by its glow.’
    • ‘All was well and beautiful for the first 10 minutes, till a chorus of sharp voices pierced my champagne reverie.’
    • ‘The continuous clicking of shutters pierced the icy Alpine air.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I sighed as that deep masculine voice pierced through my thoughts.’
    • ‘Once more, his voice pierced through the air to reach Mary.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The sudden voice pierced through the hallway and I immediately dropped the card and spun around to face Devon's approaching figure.’
    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’
      • ‘Even when reduced to tears, he doesn't pierce your heart.’
      • ‘But there's no way he could convey to us what he felt and what anguish and anxiety was piercing his heart.’
      • ‘Today, however, she said something that just pierced my heart.’
      • ‘Something pierced my heart, a bitter memory of how my boyfriend left me a few years go.’
      • ‘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’.