incisive


incisive
incisive, trenchant, clear-cut, cutting, biting, crisp are applied to utterances, thoughts, style, or mentalities and mean having or manifesting the qualities associated with sharpness, keenness, and acuteness, especially of mind.
Incisive usually implies not only qualities in the thing so described which give it the power to penetrate, pierce, or cut through but also the production of such an effect upon the person impressed; thus, an incisive voice or tone of voice is one that is not only sharply clear and edged but one that affects the nerves of the ear as though it were cutting into them; an incisive command is so sharply imperative and direct that it can neither be misunderstood nor disobeyed
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Bismarck's will had not that incisive, rapier quality, that quality of highly tempered steel- flexible, unbreakable, of mortal effect, decisive . . . which had Richelieu's— Belloc

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when finally pushed into a corner, he would be more incisive, more deadly, than any man seated foursquare and full of importance at a governmental desk— Sackville-West

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the clear, incisive genius which could state in a flash the exact point at issue— Whitehead

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Trenchant carries a stronger implication than does incisive of cutting so as to define differences, categories, or classes with sharpness and perfect clearness or of probing deeply into the inmost nature of a thing so as to reveal what is hidden or concealed
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a trenchant analysis

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when roused by indignation or moral enthusiasm, how trenchant are our reflections!— James

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the trenchant divisions between right and wrong, honest and dishonest, respectable and the reverse, had left so little scope for the unforeseen— Wharton

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no one . . . was more trenchant than he in his criticism of the popular faith— Dickinson

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a most trenchant defender of civil rights— Chafee

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Clear-cut is applied chiefly to the effect of the qualities which make for penetration, incisiveness, trenchancy, or accuracy; it suggests sharp chiseling, clear definition, or distinct outlines, and the absence of all soft edges, haziness, or confusion in the thing or things so described
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clear-cut features

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clear-cut utterance

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clear-cut distinctions

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the demands of Communism are too imperative, too clear-cut for the writer who wants only the cessation of mental pain and a private peace in his own time—Day Lewis

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his description of this condition was so clear-cut that others readily recognized it— Blumer

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Cutting is often used in place of incisive when a less pleasant or less agreeable quality or effect is to be connoted; the term frequently suggests sarcasm, acrimony, asperity, or harshness that wounds or hurts, but it sometimes carries a hint, at least, of such mental qualities as penetrating truthfulness and acute discernment
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eloquence, smooth and cutting, is like a razor whetted with oil— Swift

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he can say the driest, most cutting things in the quietest of tones— Brontë

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"I suppose you'd leave me here without money or anything?" she said in a cold, cutting voice— Bennett

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Biting, when it is applied to utterances, expressed ideas, or style, suggests a power to grip and deeply impress itself on the mind or memory; it therefore often suggests a caustic or mordant quality
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biting epigrams

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her biting words

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domineering and censorious of any that stood in his way, with a biting wit— T. D. Bacon

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Crisp (see also FRAGILE 1) suggests not only incisiveness but either vigorous terseness of expression or a bracing, invigorating quality
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the blithe, crisp sentence, decisive as a child's expression of its needs— Pater

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it is a relief to come to a diction that is frequently crisp, and incisive, and terse— Lowes

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a languorous work . . . with occasional interludes of crisp brilliance— Anthony West

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Analogous words: terse, succinct, laconic, *concise: poignant, *pungent, piquant
Contrasted words: prolix, diffuse, verbose, *wordy: *loose, lax, slack: unctuous, *fulsome

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • incisive — [ ɛ̃siziv ] n. f. • 1545; de dent incisive ♦ Dent aplatie et tranchante qui coupe les aliments, dans la partie médiane des arcades dentaires. Les huit incisives de l homme. « les tranchantes incisives des rongeurs » (Pergaud). Incisives de l… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Incisive — In*ci sive, a. [Cf. F. incisif.] [1913 Webster] 1. Having the quality of incising, cutting, or penetrating, as with a sharp instrument; cutting; hence, sharp; acute; sarcastic; biting; trenchant. An incisive, high voice. G. Eliot. [1913 Webster]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • incisive — [in sī′siv] adj. [ML incisivus < L incisus: see INCISE] 1. cutting into 2. sharp; keen; penetrating; acute [an incisive mind] 3. of the incisors incisively adv. incisiveness n. SYN. INCISIVE is applied to spe …   English World dictionary

  • incisive — [adj1] intelligent acute, bright, clever, concise, keen, penetrating, perspicacious, piercing, profound, sharp, trenchant; concept 402 Ant. incompetent, stupid incisive [adj2] sarcastic acerb, acerbic, acid, biting, caustic, clear cut, concise,… …   New thesaurus

  • incisive — I adjective acute, biting, brisk, caustic, cutting, discerning, effective, electric, galvanic, harsh, keen, mordacious, mordant, mordax, moving, penetrating, piercing, piquant, pointed, powerful, pungent, sarcastic, sarcastical, satiric,… …   Law dictionary

  • incisive — (adj.) early 15c., inscisif, slashing, cutting with a sharp edge, from M.Fr. incisif and directly from M.L. incisivus, from L. incis , pp. stem of incidere (see INCISION (Cf. incision)). Originally literal; figurative sense of mentally acute… …   Etymology dictionary

  • incisive — ► ADJECTIVE 1) intelligently analytical and concise. 2) (of an action) quick and direct. DERIVATIVES incisively adverb incisiveness noun …   English terms dictionary

  • incisive — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) adj. trenchant, penetrating; perceptive, discerning. See sharpness, feeling, intellect. II (Roget s IV) modif. 1. [Sarcastic] Syn. penetrating, cutting, biting, sharp, severe; see also sarcastic . 2.… …   English dictionary for students

  • incisive — incisively, adv. incisiveness, n. /in suy siv/, adj. 1. penetrating; cutting; biting; trenchant: an incisive tone of voice. 2. remarkably clear and direct; sharp; keen; acute: an incisive method of summarizing the issue. 3. adapted for cutting or …   Universalium

  • incisive — in|ci|sive [ınˈsaısıv] adj showing intelligence and a clear understanding of something incisive remarks/criticism etc ▪ Her questions were well formulated and incisive. ▪ The error was obvious to an incisive mind like his. >incisively adv… …   Dictionary of contemporary English


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