adjective pi·quant \ ˈpē-kənt , -ˌkänt ; ˈpi-kwənt \
|Updated on: 12 Jul 2018

Definition of piquant

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





piquant was our Word of the Day on 04/16/2012. Hear the podcast!

Examples of piquant in a Sentence

  1. piquant vegetables seasoned with pepper

  2. He served the fish with a piquant sauce.

  3. a piquant bit of gossip

Recent Examples of piquant from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of piquant

Middle French, from present participle of piquer

Synonym Discussion of 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

PIQUANT Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of piquant for English Language Learners

  • : having a pleasant, spicy taste

  • : interesting and exciting

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one who attends or assists a leader

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