1. Forceful and clear; penetrating: a trenchant argument.
2. Caustic; cutting: a trenchant wit.
3. Distinct; clear-cut: "The times were felt to require ... trenchant distinctions between good and bad, right and wrong" (David Simpson).
[Middle English, from Old French, cutting, from present participle of trenchier, to cut; see TRENCH.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. 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.