Verb > Lacerate

This word comes from a Latin one meaning “to tear into pieces.”

To lacerate something is to cut, tear, or slice it in a deep, rough, irregular way.

And figuratively speaking, to lacerate things or people is to hurt them emotionally, as if you’re making deep, rough, irregular slices into them.

LASS er ate
(or “LASS uh rate”)

Part of speech:
Verb, the transitive kind: “the insult lacerated him,” “the rejection lacerated her heart.”

Other forms worth knowing:
lacerated, lacerating, laceration(s), lacerator(s), lacerant & lacerative (both meaning “hurtful: causing deep emotional wounds”)

How to use it:
Use this harsh word to call attention to the painful, wounding power of certain jokes, comments, descriptions, critiques, judgments, insults, accusations, rejections, etc.

You can say that some person or thing lacerated someone else–or someone else’s pride, heart, spirit, feelings, confidence, etc.

Often we turn “lacerate” into “lacerating” and use it as an adjective to talk about lacerating words, especially in the form of lacerating wit, humor, or comedy.

And of course, sometimes we’re literal, talking about lacerated fingers, hands, spleens, ankle tendons, etc.

“The 17th-century play’s lacerating indictment of religious hypocrisy still resonates, given that self-righteous posturing still beckons to the credulous.”
— Celia Wren on Molière’s Tartuffe, The Washington Post, 30 January 2018

“At times the jagged vocal lines seem lacerated by furiously driven strings; at others, soft winds and strings support sustained notes by the soloists or chorus.”
— A. J. Goldmann, The New York Times, 24 June 2018