Wear a piercing Vs have a piercing

Xavier da Silva

Senior Member
Hello everyone,

Trying to figure out which expression is better, I concluded that "have a piercing" is better because the word "piercing" is actually a hole that is made so you can wear (earrings, etc) on your nose, eyebrow, tongue, etc. In fact, you don't wear holes (in this case, piercings), but you have or get them. That said, I made three examples and I'd like you to tell me your opinion. What do you think? Are my examples below more natural?

a. I have three piercings. One in my nose, another in my eyebrow and another in my tongue.
b. She has a piercing in her belly button.
c. He decided to get a piercing in his nose.

Thank you in advance!
 
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Logically you're right, of course, but when was that ever a guarantee that it's what English speakers say?

    To get/have a piercing (done)... To obtain a piercing..
    . = to visit a tattooist with a big needle (or scalpel for some piercings).
    To buy/wear a piercing is an incorrect (?) usage meaning to buy/wear a new piece of body jewellery. But it's really quite common.
    I keep it simple: I have pierced ears and wear earrings.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    All three are correct and natural for me. :)

    I always say "I have [six] piercings", "I'm getting [another] piercing" and "I wear a ring in my nose piercing".

    [cross-posted with Keith]
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    But piercing also means a piece of jewelry, so to wear/buy a piercing is correct too.
    Sorry, but neither I nor any of my pierced friends distinguish it like that. :(

    A "piercing" is what we have done: the "jewellery" is what we (usually) put in it. No-one I know has ever talked about wearing their piercing.:confused:
     

    jmichaelm

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I agree that the hole is a piercing and the thing you wear is jewelry.

    Spoken language is naturally more terse than written, so it makes sense that people would refer to wearing a piercing as shorthand for wearing jewelry in a piercing.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Now that I've finished puking (talk of piercings for fashion anywhere other than a woman's earlobe has that effect on me), I think the examples in the OP are all fine.
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    Earlier I also thought that piercing couldn't mean a piece of jewelry, but both Wiktionary and MW say that it's a piece of jewelry too.
     
    Last edited:

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Well, who am I to disagree with a dictionary? :)

    I confess Oxford Dictionaries has both meanings:
    1. A small hole in a part of the body, typically other than the ears, made so as to insert a ring, stud, or other piece of jewellery:
    1.1. A ring, stud, or other piece of jewellery worn in a pierced part of the body:

    - although in their "usage" examples, many of them could be interpreted either way - ‘She showcased her lean physique in the skimpy crochet two-piece - flashing a belly button piercing' for example.

    I'd better stop now, before poor Barque has a relapse (post #10);)
     

    jmichaelm

    Senior Member
    English - US
    But it's not true that you can universally use piercing to mean the jewelry worn in a piercing. If someone said, "I got a new piercing." everyone would understand them to mean a new hole and not simply a new ornament for an existing hole.
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    But it's not true that you can universally use piercing to mean the jewelry worn in a piercing. If someone said, "I got a new piercing." everyone would understand them to mean a new hole and not simply a new ornament for an existing hole.
    :thumbsup:
    Exactly.

    At the same time, "He was staring at her belly-button piercing" probably means that he was staring at the jewelry there, because the hole would hardly show, if empty.

    As always, context is everything.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    At the same time, "He was staring at her belly-button piercing" probably means that he was staring at the jewelry there, because the hole would hardly show, if empty.
    No one would use that sentence if the jewelry was in her hand though. She probably owns at least two pieces of jewelry that she can wear, but she only has one piercing.
     
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