Able or seeming to pierce, as:
a. Very loud; shrill: a piercing cry.
b. Fixed and intense in appearance: piercing blue eyes.
c. Causing pain, especially because of cold: a piercing wind.
d. Trenchant; incisive: piercing remarks.
e. Keenly perceptive or intelligent: a piercing intellect.
1. A piece of jewelry designed to be worn through a perforation in a body part.
2. The hole through which such a piece of jewelry is worn.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.