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[trench] /trɛntʃ/
Fortification. a long, narrow excavation in the ground, the earth from which is thrown up in front to serve as a shelter from enemy fire or attack.
trenches, a system of such excavations, with their embankments, etc.
a deep furrow, ditch, or cut.
Oceanography. a long, steep-sided, narrow depression in the ocean floor.
verb (used with object)
to surround or fortify with trenches; entrench.
to cut a trench in.
to set or place in a trench.
to form (a furrow, ditch, etc.) by cutting into or through something.
to make a cut in; cut into; carve.
verb (used without object)
to dig a trench.
Verb phrases
trench on/upon,
  1. to encroach or infringe on.
  2. to come close to; verge on:
    His remarks were trenching on poor taste.
Origin of trench
1350-1400; Middle English trenche path made by cutting < Old French: act of cutting, a cut, derivative of trenchier to cut < Vulgar Latin *trincāre, for Latin truncāre to lop; see truncate
Related forms
subtrench, noun
untrenched, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for trenches
  • First they dug trenches, but the fire outpaced them.
  • Photo of the transparent, flexible battery, with a microscope image of the grid of trenches making up the battery's electrodes.
  • Not war, but the letter a soldier would read to comfort himself while in the trenches.
  • Literary folk in the trenches know that many poets don't care much about specific predecessors.
  • Most folks in the trenches feel that a more team-oriented approach might be more effective.
  • Graduate students are the people who see it from the trenches.
  • These are designed to bring great laughs among pals who are in the trenches.
  • There are rebel checkpoints on the roads, trenches around key towns, and training camps in remote villages.
  • The trenches' layout mimics the pattern of the long-gone posts.
  • The tallest pyramid at the site not only has looters' trenches but was deeply penetrated by a series of tunnels.
British Dictionary definitions for trenches


plural noun
a system of excavations used for the protection of troops, esp those (the Trenches) used at the front line in World War I


a deep ditch or furrow
a ditch dug as a fortification, having a parapet of the excavated earth
to make a trench in (a place)
(transitive) to fortify with a trench or trenches
to slash or be slashed
(intransitive; foll by on or upon) to encroach or verge
See also trenches
Word Origin
C14: from Old French trenche something cut, from trenchier to cut, from Latin truncāre to cut off
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 trenches



late 14c., "track cut through a wood," later "long, narrow ditch" (late 15c.), from Old French trenche "a slice, ditch" (late 13c.), from trenchier "to cut," possibly from Vulgar Latin *trincare, from Latin truncare "to cut or lop off" (see truncate). Trenches for military protection are first so called c.1500. Trench warfare first attested 1918. Trench-coat first recorded 1916, a type of coat worn by British officers in the trenches.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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trenches in Science
A long, steep-sided valley on the ocean floor. Trenches form when one tectonic plate slides beneath another plate at a subduction zone. The Marianas Trench, located in the western Pacific east of the Philippines, is the deepest known trench (10,924 m or 35,831 ft) and the deepest area in the ocean.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for trenches

tree jumper

noun phrase

A sexual molester: He was, in prison parlance, a tree jumper (1970s+ Prison)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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