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[in-sahy-siv] /ɪnˈsaɪ sɪv/
penetrating; cutting; biting; trenchant:
an incisive tone of voice.
remarkably clear and direct; sharp; keen; acute:
an incisive method of summarizing the issue.
adapted for cutting or piercing.
of or relating to the incisors:
the incisive teeth.
Origin of incisive
1520-30; < Medieval Latin incīsīvus. See incise, -ive
Related forms
incisively, adverb
incisiveness, noun
unincisive, adjective
unincisively, adverb
unincisiveness, noun
1. acid, mordant; sarcastic, sardonic. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for incisive
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was resonant, far-reaching, incisive; but it rang abruptly and without mellowness.

    The Voice of the People Ellen Glasgow
  • Toward me their manner was incisive, and they demanded certain information.

    A Virginia Scout Hugh Pendexter
  • His method of presentation was the more attractive because he seasoned it with incisive wit.

  • Each quiet, incisive word that Chet spoke was clearly heard.

    The Finding of Haldgren Charles Willard Diffin
  • Once more his mental processes became clear and incisive, his commands direct and to the point.

    The Blazed Trail Stewart Edward White
British Dictionary definitions for incisive


keen, penetrating, or acute
biting or sarcastic; mordant: an incisive remark
having a sharp cutting edge: incisive teeth
Derived Forms
incisively, adverb
incisiveness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for incisive

early 15c., inscisif, "slashing, cutting with a sharp edge," from Middle French incisif and directly from Medieval Latin incisivus, from Latin incis-, past participle stem of incidere (see incision). Originally literal; figurative sense of "mentally acute" first recorded 1850 as a borrowing from French. Related: Incisively; incisiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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incisive in Medicine

incisive in·ci·sive (ĭn-sī'sĭv)

  1. Having the power to cut.

  2. Relating to the incisor teeth.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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