poignant

adjective
poi·​gnant | \ ˈpȯi-nyənt How to pronounce poignant (audio) , 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

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 But perhaps the most poignant moment takes place when the family discusses the perils of raising Black children. Lauren Puckett, Good Housekeeping, "Michelle Obama and Her Family Discuss the Challenges of Parenting in Her Latest Podcast Episode," 15 Sep. 2020 Even the simple, unadorned dreams — far from the drama of the ICU — seem poignant right now. Gillian Flaccus, The Denver Post, "Coronavirus pandemic sabotages sleep worldwide and infects dreams," 28 Apr. 2020 The New York memorial is changing one of its ceremony's central traditions: having relatives read the names of the dead, often adding poignant tributes. Jennifer Peltz, Star Tribune, "US remembers 9/11 as pandemic changes tribute traditions," 11 Sep. 2020 The New York memorial is changing one of its ceremony's central traditions: having relatives read the names of the dead, often adding poignant tributes. The Associated Press, NOLA.com, "U.S. remembers 9/11 as coronavirus pandemic changes tribute traditions," 11 Sep. 2020 The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation objected to the memorial’s decision to forgo a longstanding tradition of having relatives read the names of the dead, often adding poignant tributes. Jennifer Peltz, Anchorage Daily News, "Americans remember 9/11 terrorist attacks as pandemic changes tribute traditions," 11 Sep. 2020 The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation objected to the memorial's decision to forgo a longstanding tradition of having relatives read the names of the dead, often adding poignant tributes. Arkansas Online, "U.S. marks 9/11 anniversary at tributes shadowed by virus," 11 Sep. 2020 Her ending, where a character savored the unexpected, physical touch of a stranger was a poignant moment that spoke well beyond that situation. Monica Tapiarené By Ken Hogarty, SFChronicle.com, "Reader fiction: Throughline inspires short fiction by Bay Area residents," 6 Sep. 2020 This is a particularly poignant moment in time for me. Lauren M. Johnson, CNN, "Steve Irwin's family looks back on his life and legacy on the 14th anniversary of his death," 5 Sep. 2020

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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Time Traveler for poignant

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

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Last Updated

26 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Poignant.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/poignant. Accessed 26 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for poignant

poignant

adjective
How to pronounce poignant (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of poignant

: causing a strong feeling of sadness

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