Definition of incisive in US English:



  • 1(of a person or mental process) intelligently analytical and clear-thinking.

    ‘she was an incisive critic’
    • ‘With clear tables and incisive arguments, it is a single-volume reference on this vexing sociocultural problem.’
    • ‘They have the makings of incisive critics of visual culture.’
    • ‘While the progressive implications of some of the films seem tangential, the analysis is generally incisive and occasionally provocative.’
    • ‘Consider this incisive analysis of the Whitewater investigation.’
    • ‘He was incisive in his comments, challenging members to improve their pictures and explaining clearly how he felt this could be done.’
    • ‘Perhaps he is more incisive on individually produced artefacts like paintings or buildings.’
    • ‘I have written in the past that I would love to watch the Sunday gasbag shows with some of America's incisive social critics of the past.’
    • ‘In fact, Webb was a highly educated and incisive intellect.’
    • ‘He is incisive, can bowl for long periods, and keeps coming at the batsmen; for them the pressure seldom ceases.’
    • ‘Uday is a screaming crazy who lacks his father's deft administrative touch, incisive analytical skills, brimming compassion, and sense of restraint.’
    • ‘That much is clear from your letters related to my incisive analysis last week, exploring Google's ills.’
    • ‘Deliver intelligent and incisive points, well made and expressed with sublime brevity, with great import for the organisation and relevant to all present.’
    • ‘He does not seek to be fashionable, yet his incisive analysis of social and political realities reflects a distinctive outlook.’
    • ‘If I were currently more in charge of my faculties and able to string together a cohesive sentence, I would undoubtedly offer you some incisive media analysis of this news.’
    • ‘These traits have made him one of the liveliest and most incisive intellectuals in France.’
    • ‘The writing is fresh, the analyses incisive - all the things that are necessary for a good work of history.’
    • ‘Since he dictates all of his written work, the way he writes and the way he talks are identical: ornate, elaborate, old-fashioned, yet incisive and clear.’
    • ‘He is always incisive and insightful, and understands Wagner's epic character almost as well as anyone.’
    • ‘We commit to continuing to publish the serious scoops, the weighty investigative pieces and the incisive political analysis.’
    • ‘No man could so stimulate others unless, alongside an incisive intellect, he was possessed of enthusiasm and warmth, a deep interest in his fellow man, and a sympathy the more real for being unsentimental.’
    penetrating, acute, sharp, sharp-witted, razor-sharp, keen, rapier-like, astute, shrewd, trenchant, piercing, perceptive, insightful, percipient, perspicacious, discerning, analytical, intelligent, canny, clever, smart, quick
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    1. 1.1 (of an account) accurate and sharply focused.
      ‘the songs offer incisive pictures of American ways’
      • ‘Most of the jokes aren't laugh-aloud funny but they are incisive.’
      • ‘The moments of grace and beauty, of clear crisp prose and keen incisive social commentary lie outside the obsessive, self-reflexive mediations of Ben and Priya on the nature of their flawed union.’
      • ‘I thought the last paragraph was the most incisive passage in the piece.’
      • ‘These articles are the most incisive and intelligent I've yet seen anywhere, and I seriously hope you will continue to draw more detailed conclusions from this case.’
      • ‘His simple yet incisive writing gives you a very clear picture of the fears and longings of these teens.’
      • ‘His account is highly readable and sometimes incisive.’
      • ‘Although her passion, and commitment to accuracy, decency and incisive writing never deserted her, Gay's health progressively did, and her final years were not happy.’
      • ‘For those familiar with the era, the documentary is a sweet piece of nostalgia even if it fails to be comprehensive or intellectually incisive.’
      • ‘Its impact is enhanced by incisive writing and compelling evidence in profusion.’
      • ‘The films I was making weren't incisive enough.’
      • ‘The pages brim with incisive descriptions and exquisite pictures of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Patagonia.’
      • ‘I'm only into the second chapter, but it's incredibly incisive stuff: simple anecdotes that illustrate simple yet powerful principles.’
      • ‘Her writing is often powerful and incisive, but it achieves this effect through simplicity and restraint rather than stylistic flourish.’
      • ‘Fortunately, incisive writing and convincing performances help us overlook them.’
      • ‘They are incisive, beautifully written, witty and very personal.’
      • ‘You can look forward to some retrospective travel notes, complaints about summer TV and other incisive, analytical gems.’
      • ‘His incisive account of the institutional experimentation with respect to cutting rights is informative.’
      • ‘News organizations will gain readers by providing the most complete, reliable news, the most informed commentary, and the most aggressive, incisive reporting.’
      • ‘Might he be the focus of some incisive Hollywood docudrama?’
      • ‘The writing is pithy and incisive and sometimes devastatingly accurate.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘cutting, penetrating’): from medieval Latin incisivus, from Latin incidere ‘cut into’ (see incise).