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poignant

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adjective poi·gnant \ˈpȯi-nyənt sometimes ˈpȯi(g)-nənt\

Simple Definition of poignant

  • : causing a strong feeling of sadness

Full Definition of poignant

  1. 1 :  pungently pervasive <a poignant perfume>

  2. 2 a (1) :  painfully affecting the feelings :  piercing (2) :  deeply affecting :  touching b :  designed to make an impression :  cutting <poignant satire>

  3. 3 a :  pleasurably stimulating b :  being to the point :  apt

poi·gnant·ly adverb

Examples of poignant

  1. … this movie isn't a soft-pedaled, poignant tale of addiction and recovery—it's just about the addiction. —David Crowley, Vibe, June 2001

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. … 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

  5. The photograph was a poignant reminder of her childhood.

  6. <a poignant story of a love affair that ends in tragedy>



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

pungent, piquant, poignant, racy mean sharp and stimulating to the mind or the senses. pungent implies a sharp, stinging, or biting quality especially of odors <a cheese with a pungent odor>. piquant suggests a power to whet the appetite or interest through tartness or mild pungency <a piquant sauce>. poignant suggests something is sharply or piercingly effective in stirring one's emotions <felt a poignant sense of loss>. racy implies having a strongly characteristic natural quality fresh and unimpaired <spontaneous, racy prose>.

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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