Simple Definition of poignant
: causing a strong feeling of sadness
Examples of poignant in a sentence
… this movie isn't a soft-pedaled, poignant tale of addiction and recovery—it's just about the addiction. —David Crowley, Vibe, June 2001
In a poignant attempt to split the difference between the two camps, Justices Breyer and David Souter tried to prevent the Court from destroying itself. —Jeffrey Rosen, New Republic, 25 Dec. 2000
I've witnessed the poignant efforts of young whites striving to conform to the vague tenets of the mainstream, taking crushingly dull jobs, settling down with the least challenging of spouses … —Jake Lamar, UTNE Reader, May/June 1992
… a new and sharper and most poignant sense of loss for that broken musical instrument which had once been my leg. —Oliver Sacks, A Leg to Stand On, 1984
The photograph was a poignant reminder of her childhood.
<a poignant story of a love affair that ends in tragedy>
Did You Know?
Poignant comes to us from French, and before that from Latin-specifically, the Latin verb pungere, meaning "to prick or sting." Several other common English words derive from pungere, including pungent, which can refer, among other things, to a "sharp" odor. The influence of pungere can also be seen in puncture, as well as punctual, which originally meant simply "of or relating to a point." Even compunction and expunge come from this pointedly relevant Latin word.
Origin of poignant
Middle English poynaunt, from Anglo-French poinant, poignant, present participle of poindre to prick, sting, from Latin pungere — more at pungent
First Known Use: 14th century
Synonym Discussion of poignant
moving, impressive, poignant, affecting, touching, pathetic mean having the power to produce deep emotion. moving may apply to any strong emotional effect including thrilling, agitating, saddening, or calling forth pity or sympathy <a moving appeal for contributions>. impressive implies compelling attention, admiration, wonder, or conviction <an impressive list of achievements>. poignant applies to what keenly or sharply affects one's sensitivities <a poignant documentary on the homeless>. affecting is close to moving but most often suggests pathos <an affecting deathbed reunion>. touching implies arousing tenderness or compassion <the touching innocence in a child's eyes>. pathetic implies moving to pity or sometimes contempt <pathetic attempts to justify misconduct>.
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