pi·​quant | \ ˈpē-kənt How to pronounce piquant (audio) , -ˌkänt; ˈpi-kwənt How to pronounce piquant (audio) \

Definition of piquant

1 : engagingly provocative also : having a lively arch charm
2 : agreeably stimulating to the taste especially : spicy

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Other Words from piquant

piquantly adverb
piquantness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for piquant


pert, poignant, pungent, salty, savory (also savoury), zesty, zingy


insipid, zestless

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Choose the Right Synonym for piquant

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

Did You Know?

Piquant flavors "sting" the tongue and piquant words "prick" the intellect, arousing interest. These varying senses reflect the etymology of the word piquant, which first appeared in English in the 17th century and which derives from the Middle French verb piquer, meaning "to sting" or "to prick." Though first used to describe foods with spicy flavors, the word is now often used to describe things that are spicy in other ways, such as engaging conversation. Have we piqued your curiosity about another piquer offspring? If you’ve already guessed that the verb pique, meaning "to offend" or "to arouse by provocation," comes from piquer, too, you’ve got a sharp mind.

Examples of piquant in a Sentence

piquant vegetables seasoned with pepper He served the fish with a piquant sauce. a piquant bit of gossip
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Recent Examples on the Web

The beef: chilled, minced by hand, elevated by dabs of piquant flavors, dolloped on thin toasts or potato chips. . Tamar Adler, Vogue, "Is Serving Raw Meat And Fish A Dinner Party Taboo?," 12 Apr. 2019 The steak tartare is perfectly cut with mushroom duxelles and piquant aioli, and the escargots are buttery and tender, never chewy. Todd Plummer, Condé Nast Traveler, "18 Best Restaurants in Boston," 16 July 2018 Van Haaften smuggles in piquant details about their lives. Dwight Garner, New York Times, "‘Berenice Abbott’ Captures a Large and Star-Studded Life," 9 Apr. 2018 Smart horror is turning out to be the piquant flavor of the season in smaller theater offerings. Kerry Reid, chicagotribune.com, "What are we doing here? Gentrification issues and real scares in 'The Displaced'," 7 June 2018 What ensues arises from a deft and caring combination of engaging pantomimic gesture and demanding ballet dancing—here, simple pattern-making; there, piquant with the pointework favored in imperial Russia as signifying steel toes. Robert Greskovic, WSJ, "‘Harlequinade’ Review: Humor and History Take Center Stage," 6 June 2018 Nancy Floyd's daily photographic self-portraits over 35 years situate the artist in her home or work environment, delivering more piquant period flavor. Leah Ollman, latimes.com, "One bed photo per day, for years and years: Mesmerizing moments from an art show about daily life," 9 Apr. 2018 Musically, guests can expect a piquant blend of Armenian jazz and folk tunes. Ryan P. Smith, Smithsonian, "Unfurling the Rich Tapestry of Armenian Culture," 25 June 2018 The reader quickly grows comfortable inhabiting two worlds 30 years apart, and a piquant energy is kicked up by the contrasts: how the evolutions of one era’s ensemble shaped those of a later one. Joan Frank, San Francisco Chronicle, "‘The Great Believers,’ by Rebecca Makkai," 14 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'piquant.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of piquant

1616, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for piquant

Middle French, from present participle of piquer

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Dictionary Entries near piquant





piquant green

piquant sauce


Statistics for piquant

Last Updated

3 May 2019

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Time Traveler for piquant

The first known use of piquant was in 1616

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More Definitions for piquant



English Language Learners Definition of piquant

: having a pleasant, spicy taste
: interesting and exciting

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More from Merriam-Webster on piquant

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with piquant

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for piquant

Spanish Central: Translation of piquant

Nglish: Translation of piquant for Spanish Speakers

Comments on piquant

What made you want to look up piquant? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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