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Etymology 1[edit]

The origin of the verb is unknown; it is perhaps related to Old French troncer, troncher, troncir, tronchir (to cut; to cut a piece from; to retrench), from Old French tronce, tronche (stump; piece of wood). However, the English and Old French words differ in meaning.[1]

The noun is derived from the verb.


trounce (third-person singular simple present trounces, present participle trouncing, simple past and past participle trounced)

  1. (transitive) To beat severely; to thrash.
    • 1593, Tho[mas] Nashe, “[Dedication]”, in The Apologie of Pierce Pennilesse. Or, Strange Newes, of the Intercepting Certaine Letters: [], London: [] Iohn Danter, [], →OCLC; republished as John Payne Collier, editor, Strange Newes, of the Intercepting Certaine Letters [] (Miscellaneous Tracts; Temp. Eliz. and Jac. I), [London: s.n., 1870], →OCLC, page vii:
      I tell you, I meane to trounce him after twenty in the hundred, and have a bout with him with two ſtaves and a pike for this geare.
    • 1684, John Struys [i.e., Jan Janszoon Struys], “[The Third Voyage of John Struys.] The Religion and Church-government of the Russians. The Patriarch and His Office. Of Their Sacraments, &c.”, in John Morrison, transl., The Voiages and Travels of John Struys through Italy, Greece, Muscovy, Tartary, Media, Persia, East-India, Japan, and Other Countries in Europe, Africa and Asia: [] Done out of Dutch, London: Printed for Abel Swalle, [], →OCLC, page 152:
      There is a Law among them that whoſoever beats one of thoſe Clerks ſo, that his Cap fall to the ground, he is liable to a very ſevere penalty (if I well remember to looſe his hand) which nevertheleſs happens frequently in the Cabac: but to prevent the worſt when a Layman is minded to beat one of thoſe Muſhrooms, he firſt takes off his Cap and then trounces him off ſo long as he will, which done he ſets the Cap upon the right Block again.
    • 1843 March, “Argus” [pseudonym], “Short Hints”, in Charles T. Botts and L. M. Burfoot, editors, The Southern Planter, a Monthly Periodical, Devoted to Agriculture, Horticulture and the Household Arts, volume III, number 4, Richmond, Va.: Printed by P. D. Bernard, [], published April 1843, →OCLC, page 89:
      O yez; take notice! that the first bad boy I find killing an innocent bird, or trouncing a poor frog, I will have no mercy on him.
    • 1876, Mark Twain [pseudonym; Samuel Langhorne Clemens], chapter XX, in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Hartford, Conn.: The American Publishing Company, →OCLC, page 162:
      Tom was so stunned that he had not even presence of mind enough to say "Who cares, Miss Smarty?" until the right time to say it had gone by. So he said nothing. But he was in a fine rage, nevertheless. He moped into the schoolyard wishing she were a boy, and imagining how he would trounce her if she were.
  2. (transitive) To beat or overcome thoroughly, to defeat heavily; especially (games, sports) to win against (someone) by a wide margin.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:defeat
    The Mexican team trounced the Americans by 10 goals to 1.
    • 1650, [Richard Brathwait], “The Shepheards Holy Day, Mopso and Marina”, in Recreation for Ingenious Head-peeces. Or, A Pleasant Grove for Their Wits to Walke in, [], London: Printed by M. Simmons, and are to be sold by John Hancock [], →OCLC:
      Mar[ina]. Crowd the Fidler is not there: / And my mind delighted is / With no ſtroke ſo much as his. / Mop[so]. If not he, / There will bee / Drone the Piper that will trounce it. / Mar. But if Crowd / Struck alowd, / Lord me thinks how I could bounce it.
    • 1803 August 28, G. H., “Letter II. August 28th, 1803.”, in Alfred’s Letters. An Essay on the Constitution of England, and an Appeal to the People; with Six Letters, on the Subject of Invasion, Originally Addressed to the Printers of the Two Shrewsbury Papers, Wellington; Iron Bridge [Shropshire?]: Printed by F. Houlston and Son, published 1804, →OCLC, page 15:
      What skill and dexterity soldiers, who are called together only once a week, may possess, in trouncing an enemy, which has already trounced half Europe, I will not pretend to determine; [...]
    • 1932 January, Carl Schmitt, “[The Necessity of Politics] The Outcome”, in Carl Schmitt; Nicholas Berdyaev; Michael de la B[é]doyère, Vital Realities (Essays in Order; 5–7), New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company, →OCLC, page 77:
      If by such reasoning all systems of political authority are rejected, [Mikhail] Bakunin, the greatest anarchist of the nineteenth century, must appear in the light of an ingenious berserker hastening in advance of his generation to wage war against Idea and Intellect, and to clear away all metaphysical and ideological obstacles, trouncing in a Scythian frenzy religion and politics, theology and law.
    • 1994, Isobel V. Morin, “Margaret Chase Smith: A Woman’s Place is in the House and in the Senate”, in Women of the U.S. Congress (Profiles), Minneapolis, Minn.: Oliver Press, →ISBN, pages 35 and 37:
      In fact, they tried to defeat her [Margaret Chase Smith] by offering to support her in a run for the governorship. Smith declined the offer and surprised everyone by trouncing three popular opponents in the Republican primary. She then went on to an easy victory in the general election.
    • 1999, Mark Stewart, “Staying on Top”, in Mariah Morgan, editor, Terrell Davis: Toughing It Out (Football’s New Wave), Brookfield, Conn.: Millbrook Press, →ISBN, page 41:
      In the divisional playoff, the [Denver] Broncos avenged their loss to the Miami Dolphins, trouncing them 38–3.
    • 2003, Lauraine Snelling, More Than a Dream (Return to Red River; 3), Bloomington, Minn.: Bethany House Publishers, →ISBN, page 237:
      I dislike bragging, but Edward and I trounced the opposition in the debate on state's rights last week. We received a hearty round of applause and have now challenged the debating team from Carleton to a match.
    • 2023 January 7, Erin Griffith; Cade Metz, “A New Area of A.I. Booms, Even Amid the Tech Gloom”, in The New York Times[1], →ISSN:
      Others believe big tech companies such as Google will quickly trounce the young upstarts, and that some of the new companies have little competitive advantage.
  3. (transitive) To chastise or punish physically or verbally; to scold with abusive language.
    Synonyms: censure, (verbal punishment) rebuke
  4. (transitive, Britain, regional) To punish by bringing a lawsuit against; to sue.
    • 1663 March 6 (date written; Gregorian calendar), Samuel Pepys; Mynors Bright, transcriber, “February 24th, 1662–1663”, in Henry B[enjamin] Wheatley, editor, The Diary of Samuel Pepys [], volume III, London: George Bell & Sons []; Cambridge: Deighton Bell & Co., published 1893, →OCLC, page 52:
      Slept hard till 8 o'clock, then waked by Mr. Clerke's being come to consult me about Field's business, which we did by calling him up to my bedside, and he says we shall trounce him.
    • 1702 March 3, “The Prosecution and Tryal of Col. Nicholas Bayard, in the Province of New-York, for High Treason, Anno 17012”, in [Thomas Salmon], editor, A Compleat Collection of State-Tryals, and Proceedings upon Impeachment for High Treason, and Other Crimes and Misdemeanours; [] In Four Volumes, volume IV, London: Printed for Timothy Goodwin, []; John Walthoe []; Benj[amin] Tooke []; John Darby []; Jacob Tonson []; and John Walthoe Jun. [], published 1719, →OCLC, page 556, column 1:
      Whereupon Mr. Weaver did threaten them, and (to uſe his own Expreſſion) would cauſe them to be trounced, taking down their Names. And the Grand Jury broke up without acting.
    • 1737, [Robert] Drury, The Rival Milliners: Or, The Humours of Covent Garden. [], London: Printed for G. Spavan, [], →OCLC, Act II, scene xii, page 41:
      And I have yet to graſp you left a Claw, / I'll trounce you, Sir, I'll hamper you with Law; / Witneſs I have of all that has been Spoken, / I'll bring an Action, for your Contract broken; / For Damages ſuſtain'd, I'll make you rue, / In Doctor's-Commons play the Devil too.
    • 1867, John Cordy Jeaffreson, “‘The Devil’s Own’”, in A Book about Lawyers. [...] In Two Volumes, volume I, 2nd revised edition, London: Hurst and Blackett, publishers, successors to Henry Colburn, [], →OCLC, page 84:
      [A]s an ensign, stationed at Minorca, he [Thomas Erskine, 1st Baron Erskine] was enthusiastic in his sympathy for General [John] Mostyn, when that Governor was trounced in an action for false imprisonment and other illegal treatment brought against him in the Common Pleas by Fabrigas.
Derived terms[edit]


trounce (plural trounces)

  1. An act of trouncing: a severe beating, a thrashing; a thorough defeat.
    • 1881 November, Mrs. M. E. Blake, “The Carnivoristicous Ounce”, in Mary Mapes Dodge, editor, St. Nicholas: An Illustrated Magazine for Young Folks, volume IX, part I, number 1, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., →OCLC, stanza 3, page 43, column 1:
      He sprang on his prey with a pounce, / And he gave it a jerk and a trounce; / Then crunched up its bones / On the grass or the stones, / This carnivoristicous Ounce, / 'Ticous Ounce! / This carnivoristicous Ounce!
    • 1928, Madge Jenison, Dominance, Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran & Company, →OCLC, page 193:
      She could hear the maid beating the pillows—a trounce for each—and tossing them into a pile where they fell with a plump.
    • 1990, James Broughton, Special Deliveries: New and Selected Poems, Seattle, Wash.: Broken Moon Press, →ISBN, page 12:
      In the nick of time he lassoed with a trounce / the low-down villains who had stubbed our toes.
    • 1993, 6th Annual Dentistry and the Law Conference: A National Conference, Burlingam, Calif.: Randall K. Berning and Affiliates, →OCLC:
      [...] [Harris] Wofford's campaign, headed by James Carville and concentrating on a need for national health insurance, was a trounce and stunning upset.

Etymology 2[edit]

The verb is derived from Middle English traunce, trauncen, trancen (to move about (?); to prance (?); to trample the ground) (whence modern English trance with the same senses),[2] possibly either:[3]

The noun is probably derived from the verb.


trounce (third-person singular simple present trounces, present participle trouncing, simple past and past participle trounced) (Britain, dialectal)

  1. (intransitive) To walk heavily or with some difficulty; to tramp, to trudge.
    Synonym: (obsolete except dialectal) trance
    • 1882, Ben[jamin] Brierley, “Easter Holidays: A ‘Lump-Yead’s’ Story”, in Popular Edition of Tales and Sketches of Lancashire Life: Daisy Nook Sketches, Manchester: Abel Heywood & Son, []; London: Simpkin, Marshall, & Co., [], →OCLC, page 180:
      There were no railways then—well, not in Hazelworth, at any rate—and as coach-fares would have absorbed most of our stock of "Sunday pennies," we had to "trounce" every inch of our way to Manchester.
    • 1884, Ben[jamin] Brierley, “‘Dragged Up.’ [Written during the Cotton Famine.]”, in Tales and Sketches of Lancashire Life: The Chronicles of Waverlow, Manchester: Abel Heywood & Son, []; London: Simpkin, Marshall, & Co., [], →OCLC, page 25:
      I am what a Yorkshireman would call a 'Lanky,' and perhaps as poor a specimen of the cotton county's human produce as ever trounced barefoot through its lanes, or shuddered at the sound of its factory bells.
  2. (intransitive) To pass across or over; to traverse.
    Synonym: (obsolete except dialectal) trance
    • 1998, Jill Barnett, “[Old Things] Chapter 8”, in Debbie Macomber; Susan Wiggs; Jill Barnett, That Summer Place, New York, N.Y.: Mira, →ISBN; republished New York, N.Y.: Mira, 2008, →ISBN, page 75:
      "And at school everyone knows I'm Dana Winslow's younger sister. Mr. Johnson, the science teacher, even calls me Dana sometimes." / Dana looked up then. "Do you answer him?" / "I have to. If I don't he thinks I'm not participating." Aly got up and trounced over to the bookcase.
  3. (intransitive) To travel quickly over a long distance.
    Synonym: (obsolete except dialectal) trance
    • 2005, Lisa Samson, chapter 24, in Club Sandwich: A Novel, Colorado Springs, Colo.: WaterBrook Press, Random House, →ISBN, page 286:
      Lyra trounces into the kitchen, a smile on her face. "Good morning, everyone! Morning, Grandpa. Morning, Gramps."
    • 2009, Jacob Polley, chapter 13, in Talk of the Town, London: Picador, →ISBN; republished London: Picador, 2010, →ISBN, page 121:
      Don't thank us, then, she snaps, and trounces off down the road.


trounce (plural trounces) (Britain, dialectal)

  1. A walk involving some difficulty or effort; a trek, a tramp, a trudge.
    • 1882, Ben[jamin] Brierley, “[The Bride of Cherry Tree Cottage] Chapter II”, in Popular Edition of Tales and Sketches of Lancashire Life: Daisy Nook Sketches, Manchester: Abel Heywood & Son, []; London: Simpkin, Marshall, & Co., [], →OCLC, page 205:
      An' what a trounce it's bin! I declare to goodness I'm as out o' wynt as an owd pair o' ballis, wi' walkin so far.
  2. A journey involving quick travel; also, one that is dangerous or laborious.
    Synonym: (obsolete except dialectal) trance
    • 1878, William Dickinson, “Troonce, c[entral], n[orth], Tràwwnce, s[outh]w[est]”, in A Glossary of Words and Phrases Pertaining to the Dialect of Cumberland (Series C (Original Glossaries, and Glossaries with Fresh Additions); VIII), London: Printed for the English Dialect Society by Trübner & Co., [], →OCLC, page 106:
      Sec a trounce we've hed ower t' fells!
      Such a trounce we've had over the fells!


  1. ^ trounce, v.1”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1915; “trounce, v.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  2. ^ Compare “trounce, v.2”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1915; “trance, v.2”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1914.
  3. 3.0 3.1 trauncen, v.(2)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  4. ^ trauncen, v.(1)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.

Further reading[edit]