poignant

adjective
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from poignant

poignantly adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for poignant

Synonyms

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

Antonyms

insipid, zestless

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The singer's ability to consistently build on his gift for poignant, emotionally charged performances is a sure sign of the lasting impact the Englishman will continue to have on all who hear his voice. Billboard Radio China, Billboard, "British Singer Calum Scott Adds Asia Dates to Debut Tour," 21 June 2018 The poignant, absorbing photos contrasted densely inhabited, low-wealth urban areas with sparsely inhabited, wealthy ones, using differences in urban electrification to underscore inequality across borders. Giovanna Dunmall, Curbed, "At Venice Architecture Biennale, U.S. pavilion tackles borders and citizenship," 31 May 2018 One scene turns on the plight of a poetry professor, Douglas (a poignant performance by David Ingram). Julia M. Klein, Philly.com, "'Hope and Gravity' at Plays and Players: Broad strokes, high energy, zigzags from dark to light," 4 May 2018 But the day of events also featured one sadly poignant moment. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "The Touching Way Meghan Markle and the Queen Marked the Grenfell Tower Fire Anniversary," 14 June 2018 Breathtaking acts of hubris replace poignant family moments. Judy Berman, Time, "Succession Is a Bleak But Satisfying Portrait of Modern Wealth," 7 June 2018 The ceremony had poignant moments that reflected a school year that saw students cope with the loss of a classmate and teacher. Karie Angell Luc, chicagotribune.com, "Class of 2018 bids farewell to Glenbrook North," 5 June 2018 Khong’s debut novel, in which a young woman moves back home after her father begins to suffer from dementia, is both deliciously funny and gently poignant. Moira Macdonald, The Seattle Times, "Paperback Picks: books by Nancy Pearl, Ann Powers and more," 10 July 2018 This delicate, intimate chamber piece paints a wry yet poignant portrait of an Egyptian band stranded for a night in an Israeli desert village. Christopher Wallenberg, BostonGlobe.com, "Picks and predictions for the Tonys," 8 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about poignant

Listen to Our Podcast about poignant

Dictionary Entries near poignant

-poietic

poignance

poignancy

poignant

poignard

poikil-

poikilitic

Statistics for poignant

Last Updated

2 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for poignant

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for poignant

poignant

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of poignant

: causing a strong feeling of sadness

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on poignant

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for poignant

Spanish Central: Translation of poignant

Nglish: Translation of poignant for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of poignant for Arabic Speakers

Comments on poignant

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

WORD OF THE DAY

obstinately defiant of authority

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!