piercing

Piercing means loud or intense, like the piercing scream of the heroine in a horror movie or the piercing cold of the wind on a frigid February morning.

The adjective piercing comes from pierce, which means to poke a hole in something with a sharp object. If you've had your ears pierced, you get the idea. Things that are piercing are figuratively sharp, like a piercing look from an angry teacher, the piercing cold of the ocean, or the piercing sound of your smoke detector. There's also a shrewdness or intelligence that can be described as piercing: "The piercing insight in your book report was impressive."

Definitions of piercing
1

adj painful as if caused by a sharp instrument

piercing cold”
piercing criticism”
Synonyms:
cutting, keen, knifelike, lancinate, lancinating, stabbing
sharp
keenly and painfully felt; as if caused by a sharp edge or point

adj having or emitting a high-pitched and sharp tone or tones

Synonyms:
sharp, shrill
high, high-pitched
used of sounds and voices; high in pitch or frequency

adj having or demonstrating ability to recognize or draw fine distinctions

Synonyms:
acute, discriminating, incisive, keen, knifelike, penetrating, penetrative, sharp
perceptive
having the ability to perceive or understand; keen in discernment

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