Definition of trench in English:



  • 1A long, narrow ditch.

    ‘dig a trench around the perimeter of the fire’
    • ‘‘The trench is not deep and is at a high point of the pass,’ he pointed out.’
    • ‘Near one of their bore-wells, there was a deep trench in which run-off flowed during the monsoon.’
    • ‘On the floor, in the corner, is a small pit and a trench about six inches deep.’
    • ‘If the plastic is buried too deep into the trench, it can't be pulled up easily by hand, and if it's buried too shallow, it pulls out with the wind.’
    • ‘The end of the trench should have a deeper area which is used to rake hot ash and embers into.’
    • ‘This was the only way to let new trust grow across a deep trench between the erstwhile perpetrators and their victims.’
    • ‘The discovery of the ruins came after a mudslide flushed out a deep trench nearly two-kilometers long and 25-meters wide through rice fields late last month.’
    • ‘One such spot is the Labyrinth, where deep trenches are carved into Wright Valley, a relatively ice-free area of the continent.’
    • ‘This feature conceals a deep trench and a retaining wall that protect the building from errant drivers.’
    • ‘It also allows the tracks of the excavator to remain parallel to the trench for efficient repositioning.’
    • ‘In Paternoster Row, near the top of the hill, it was laid in a deep trench to help reduce the gradient.’
    • ‘It takes guts to take on a whole range of obstacles including dunes, wadis, muddy chotts and deep trenches.’
    • ‘The trench should be deep enough to cover the plants' roots and crown (the point at which roots and stem meet) and long enough to hold all the plants.’
    • ‘This reduces repositioning time by allowing the tracks to remain parallel to the trench.’
    • ‘A deep trench, which was obvious to an adult, had been dug in the grassland by the defendant as part of the development.’
    • ‘Waterford City Council has granted permission for the work, though the trench is in a zone of archaeological potential listed in the council's own development plan.’
    • ‘There's the 16th green with a deep trench through its middle.’
    • ‘They set the asparagus roots 6 to 8 inches deep in the trench and covered the crowns with 2 inches of compost.’
    • ‘In the morning there was a trench about four feet deep with perfectly straight sides that ran halfway down the block.’
    • ‘Although the analyses were undertaken in trenches parallel to the detrital-authigenic boundary, no decrease in ages was detected within the overgrowth.’
    ditch, channel, trough, excavation, pit, furrow, rut, conduit, cut, drain, waterway, watercourse
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A long, narrow ditch dug by troops to provide a place of shelter from enemy fire.
      • ‘On battlefields dominated by machine guns and artillery, men at the front huddled in deep trenches or other battle positions.’
      • ‘Usually about six feet wide and seven feet deep, the trenches were guarded by barbed wire and machine-gun posts.’
      • ‘They dug trenches, emplaced minefields and strung concertina wire.’
      • ‘The enemy had returned to the bunker by means of connecting trenches from other emplacements and the platoon was again halted by devastating fire.’
      • ‘Belgian highway construction uncovered a nearly intact system of trenches and the remains of seven soldiers of the War to End All Wars.’
      • ‘The frontline trenches are preserved, and you can see just how close the fighters were - literally a grenade's throw apart.’
      • ‘I stood in a deep trench with members of various companies waiting for the whistle to jump out and low crawl to the barbed wire.’
      • ‘And, much to the horror of the ground commanders of World War I, they suddenly realised that the Germans had three rather than the accepted two lines of trenches.’
      • ‘Later in the day, the army dug out fresh trenches and put large concrete slabs in front of them so they could never be moved by bare hands alone.’
      • ‘During their four years of occupation, the Germans had created four successive, mutually supporting defensive lines, linked by trenches and interlocking arcs of fire.’
      • ‘By Christmas 1914, the front had ossified into a continuous line of trenches from the North Sea to the Swiss border.’
      • ‘He thinks to himself that, if it were not for war, he would not be about to go off and kill the fellow just like himself in the trenches on the other side of no man's land, but would be sitting down and having a drink with the man.’
      • ‘Turner continued leading his men over three lines of hostile trenches, cleaning up each one as they advanced.’
      • ‘It's like the troops appearing from the trenches on Christmas Day for a quick game of football before the sun sets and they return to their killing posts.’
      • ‘The number of trenches and sandbagged gun positions has tripled in two weeks.’
      • ‘The youth's regiment relieved a command that had manned a series of trenches along a line of woods.’
      • ‘They should be, therefore, installed as soon as foxholes are dug and expanded into trenches or commander's observation posts are erected.’
      • ‘While he managed to fight as far as the fourth line of trenches, by 3.30 pm practically his whole battalion had been wiped out by German artillery.’
      • ‘As a sniper, he spent most of his time between the lines of trenches, in ‘No Man's Land ’, hunting other snipers.’
      • ‘There were several lines of trenches dug into the area outside the armory, stretching from the pavement all across the hundred yards of lawn to the barricaded doors.’
    2. 1.2trenches A connected system of long, narrow ditches forming an army's line.
      • ‘Back in the trenches, he offered a prize to the first platoon to kick its football up to the German trenches on the day of the attack.’
      • ‘The first line of trenches was called front line trenches.’
      • ‘In evocative detail William's diary describes the first time he went over the top of the trenches on June 28, 1915.’
      • ‘Each night more men withdrew in silence until only two hundred and fifty soldiers maintained the front line of trenches where a hundred and thirty thousand had previously defended.’
      • ‘We somehow took the second line of the German trenches.’
      • ‘In places, the Canadian and German soldiers were less than 25 metres from one another on the front line trenches.’
      • ‘Half a mile out of Maricourt, we crossed the line of the British trenches.’
      • ‘The logic behind this was so that the artillery guns would destroy the German trenches and barbed wire placed in front of the trenches.’
      • ‘Somewhere over that gentle rise were their own trenches and, a little farther, the trenches of the Army.’
      • ‘British gunfire should have destroyed the barbed wire defences in front of the German trenches, but it had not, as the men found out when they crawled and ran towards the German lines.’
      • ‘Instead, I chose a collection of 300 World War I letters written from the trenches, tents and field hospitals of Flanders.’
      • ‘Getting decent hot food from the field kitchens to the front line trenches could be impossible when a battle was either imminent or in full flow.’
      • ‘The military failure in Gallipoli had pushed the emphasis of the war back to the Western Front - to the trenches and the lack of movement.’
    3. 1.3the trenches The battlefields of northern France and Belgium in the First World War.
      ‘the slaughter in the trenches created a new cynicism’
      • ‘My dad never knew his own dad - he was killed in the trenches during the First World War but I have never heard a bitter word uttered by my dad towards the German nation.’
      • ‘The twentieth century was a dark century, born in the trenches of the First World War and coming of age in the concentration camps of the Holocaust.’
      • ‘After art school he served in the trenches throughout the First World War, an experience which produced one of his major works and left him with a lifelong interest in warfare and soldiers.’
      • ‘The plaque commemorates some 600 Dawson men who went off to fight in the trenches of France and Belgium.’
      • ‘Tolkien was said to have based the battle scenes on his own experiences in the trenches of the First World War.’
      • ‘Uncle Charlie had been in the trenches in the First World War and come back ‘shell shocked.’’
      • ‘The often bestial conditions in the trenches of the First World War were thought to have permitted the manufacture of only the crudest items.’
      • ‘The fact that it is also set in the trenches of the First World War only helps.’
      • ‘The battles in the trenches were long and resulted in much more loss of life while the naval battles in most cases helped bring about the end of the war.’
      • ‘We all found him a very entertaining fellow, as he helped us pass the long, boring hours in the trenches of France.’
      • ‘My father was a soldier of the Great War, fighting in the trenches of France because of a shot fired in a city he'd never heard of called Sarajevo.’
      • ‘My dad served in the trenches in the First World War and my mum's brother was killed on the Somme.’
      • ‘He's been in the trenches on a lot of issues, like veterans care.’
      • ‘The family story is that he died because of the chronic effects of being gassed in the trenches of France in World War I.’
      • ‘To compound whatever he saw or experienced in the trenches of the First World War, the man was an alcoholic and a drug addict.’
      • ‘It was famously sung in the trenches of the First World War by Welsh regiments to keep their spirits up, and it's a firm favourite with Welsh rugby crowds.’
      • ‘In the trenches during the First World War, two foot-soldiers come upon the unconscious figure of an officer.’
      • ‘But, you know, we've been in the trenches on a number of issues that are important to communities all across this country.’
      • ‘My great uncles fought in the trenches in the first world war and my father's generation were involved in the second world war.’
      • ‘It was not until the spring of 1918 that angel rumours were again spread through the elaborate grapevine that had developed in the trenches of the Western Front.’
  • 2A long, narrow, deep depression in the ocean bed, typically one running parallel to a plate boundary and marking a subduction zone.

    in place names ‘the Marianas Trench’
    • ‘However, in this instance, the crew was seen throwing large plastic bags filled with garbage into a deep trench located off Pattaya's coastline.’
    • ‘He explained to me that there were probably about 20 or so divers in the lake, and that they explore the rocky lake bottom which apparently also includes a deep trench.’
    • ‘The Solomon Sea, north of Cape Vogel, is characterized by deep trenches, some reaching depths of nearly 30,000 feet.’
    • ‘There is also an observed parallel association of trenches and island arcs.’
    • ‘As the name implies, volcanic island arcs, which closely parallel the trenches, are generally curved.’
    • ‘They filled the seas 400 million years ago, and perhaps a few are lurking in some deep sea trench.’
    • ‘They are a success story from the rocky tide pools of the zones near the surface, all the way down to the deepest trenches which score the ocean floor.’
    • ‘McCartney's voice can take some getting used to, but the wonders of reverb on songs like ‘Metropolitan’ and ‘Northern Light’ bring to mind images of music bubbling up from the depths of an ocean trench; it's a nice touch.’
    • ‘The most conspicuous outboard structure is the accretionary wedge that lies just continentward of the ocean trench, the bathymetric manifestation of the subduction zone.’
    • ‘A shelf of coral and limestone jutting into the dark abyss of the ocean trench to the west of the islands, it offers a ringside place at the marine bonanza represented by a strong upwelling current.’
    • ‘In the Indian Ocean, deep trenches are confined to the southern coast of Indonesia, and tsunamis are rare.’
    • ‘The trench runs roughly parallel to the west coast of Sumatra about 125 miles offshore.’
    • ‘We can clearly see the subducting plate boundary at least 85 km from the trench and probably much farther.’
    • ‘These trenches are where subduction is happening.’
    • ‘The area outside the store was like that of some deep oceanic trench.’
    • ‘The current angled across the shelf and spilled in a deeper trench below.’
    • ‘Now a lot of the time that's just because we're used to breathing air and having nice warm temperatures, and of course it's not a problem for animals that live down there and there's life down to the bottom of the very deepest ocean trenches.’
    • ‘Deep marine trenches with thermal vent ecosystems independent of solar energy add to the enormous complexity of our biodiversity.’
    • ‘The descending mantle current tends to drag the crust down with it, forming a deep trench or piling up young mountains.’
  • 3A trench coat.

    • ‘He must transform the Burberry trench each season to keep it in the headlines and next summer will be no different.’
    • ‘Something familiar yet different, his reinterpretation of the trench is just genius.’
    • ‘Those ultimate classic trenches with contrast piping at Chanel made everyone wish for overcast skies.’
    • ‘But for a more Spring 2005 look, this red floral Burberry trench is just the thing.’
    • ‘The basic tee is renowned for its relentless work in the promotional trenches as a giveaway item.’
    • ‘Just when we were getting bored of the classic trench, he goes and revamps it in such a way that all I can think about is just how very much I want one of these!’
    • ‘The cotton reefer and trench sits with cropped Capri pants.’
    • ‘Sexier than a parka and cuter than a raincoat, it's a waterproof version of a military-styled coat and it fits long like a trench.’
    • ‘The trenches, hats and flannel suits are a tribute to Humphrey Bogart.’


  • 1with object Dig a trench or trenches in (the ground)

    ‘she trenched the terrace to a depth of 6 feet’
    • ‘The perimeter of each plot was trenched to 1 m depth and lined with polyethylene film to prevent lateral movement of soil water.’
    • ‘The waterways phase of the beautification project at Mennonite Heritage Village includes trenching scenic streams to feed into the lake.’
    1. 1.1 Turn over the earth of (a field or garden) by digging a succession of adjoining ditches.
      • ‘Here John McPhail, the gardener, was at work trenching in 1828 to create beds for the already burgeoning plant collection.’
      dig a ditch in, provide with ditches, trench, excavate, drain
      View synonyms
  • 2trench on/uponarchaic no object Border closely on; encroach on.

    ‘this would surely trench very far on the dignity and liberty of citizens’
    • ‘And balanced against this country's self-defense needs, we cannot say that the district court erred in concluding that the electronic surveillance here did not trench upon Ivanov's Fourth Amendment rights.’
    • ‘Isn't the gold standard for civil liberties questions the ‘strict scrutiny’ test, whereby legislative enactments trenching on constitutional rights need to achieve a compelling state interest by the least intrusive means possible?’
    • ‘Well, the president getting involved, he has a right to, but it crosses, it trenches upon the powers of separation.’
    • ‘He pointed out that ‘many other states have achieved the same essential goals [of preserving the judiciary's integrity and independence] without trenching upon clearly established constitutional rights.’’
    • ‘Laws that trench upon established rights and liberties and do very little in preventing extreme acts of political violence will be on the statute books.’


Late Middle English (in the senses ‘track cut through a wood’ and ‘sever by cutting’): from Old French trenche (noun), trenchier (verb), based on Latin truncare (see truncate).