One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1‘a piercing shriek’
shrill, ear-piercing, ear-splitting, high-pitched, air-rending, penetrating, shattering, strident, loud, strong
sharp, intrusive, screechy, squawky
2‘the piercing cold’
freezing, frosty, frigid, chill, chilling, glacial, arctic, wintry, sharp, keen, biting, stinging, cutting, penetrating, numbing, harsh, fierce, raw, bitter
British informal parky
3‘a piercing pain’
intense, excruciating, agonizing, sharp, stabbing, shooting, stinging, severe, extreme, fierce, harrowing, searing, penetrating, racking, insufferable, unbearable, unendurable, torturous
4‘a piercing glance’
shrewd, discerning, perceptive, probing, searching, observant, penetrating, penetrative, sharp, keen, alert, intent, inquisitive
5‘a piercing intelligence’
perceptive, percipient, perspicacious, penetrating, discerning, discriminating, intelligent, quick-witted, sharp, sharp-witted, shrewd, insightful, keen, acute, astute, clever, smart, incisive, knife-like, razor-edged, trenchant, subtle, quick, ready, clear, sensitive, thoughtful, deep, profound
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