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

Definition of poignant 

1a(1) : painfully affecting the feelings : piercing

(2) : deeply affecting : touching

b : designed to make an impression : cutting poignant satire

2a : pleasurably stimulating

b : being to the point : apt

3 : pungently pervasive a poignant perfume

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Other words from poignant

poignantly adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for poignant


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


insipid, zestless

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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.

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
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Recent Examples on the Web

Jon Krakauer brilliantly gave us his poignant and introspective personal experience in Into Thin Air, a severe cautionary spotlight on the fallibility of commercializing altitude chasing madness. The Editors, Outside Online, "The Best Adventure Books, According to Bookworms," 31 May 2018 There is love and loss, heartbreak, celebration, poignant and hilarious times—always with cake. Alice Medrich, WSJ, "‘The Perfect Cake’ and ‘Cake’ Reviews: Coconut, Carrot, Pound, Layer . . .," 13 Apr. 2018 As the community rallies during Pride Month, the importance of volunteering becomes much more poignant as groups come together to reflect on the work still to be done, according to Anthony Galloway of Equality Illinois. Shelbie Lynn Bostedt, RedEye Chicago, "For LGBTQ millennials, Pride is more than just a party," 15 June 2017 Bestselling author Kristin Hannah delivers one of the most poignant and courageous portraits of World War II in modern literature, penning an extraordinarily breathtaking tale of two sisters and their path to survival in the face of war. Redbook, "20 Books You Need to Take to the Beach This Summer," 17 May 2017 Told through Deja's eyes, Towers Falling is a poignant and heartbreaking lens on our history and our future. Emily Ables, Seventeen, "I Read Pretty Much Every YA Book in 2016 and These Are Definitely the 10 Best," 28 Dec. 2016 Image There are few more poignant, exasperating creatures than teenage girls. Bo Burnham, New York Times, "Review: All the Feels, Hurts and Laughs of ‘Eighth Grade’," 11 July 2018 They are rooted to the ground, their striving made more poignant by its obvious futility. The Economist, "How Alberto Giacometti became a legend," 14 June 2018 The song was made even more poignant by Biggie's widow, Faith Evans, singing its chorus. Gary Trust, Billboard, "This Week in Billboard Chart History: In 1989, New Kids on the Block Notched Their First Hot 100 No. 1," 11 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'poignant.' 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 poignant

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for poignant

Middle English poynaunt, from Anglo-French poinant, poignant, present participle of poindre to prick, sting, from Latin pungere — more at pungent

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Statistics for poignant

Last Updated

21 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for poignant

The first known use of poignant was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of poignant

: causing a strong feeling of sadness

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More from Merriam-Webster on poignant

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Spanish Central: Translation of poignant

Nglish: Translation of poignant for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of poignant for Arabic Speakers

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