pun·​gent | \ ˈpən-jənt How to pronounce pungent (audio) \

Definition of pungent

1 : sharply painful
2 : having a stiff and sharp point pungent leaves
3a : marked by a sharp incisive quality : caustic a pungent critic pungent language
b : being sharp and to the point
4a : causing a sharp or irritating sensation especially : acrid
b : having an intense flavor or odor a pungent chili

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Other Words from pungent

pungently adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for pungent


nippy, sharp, strong, tangy


bland, mild, smooth

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Choose the Right Synonym for pungent

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

Examples of pungent in a Sentence

The left has often complained that what it needs isn't polite speech, but voices as pungent as those on the right. — Jennifer Senior, New York Times Book Review, 24 Sept. 2006 I remember the enormous size of that fire and the pungent smell of smoke from the burning chaparral as the flames raced up the slope toward our house. — Tim White, Curious Minds, 2004 Maybe what seems pungent to the locals only becomes alarming when sniffed through a giant Western proboscis, but there are some odors in China that make a visit to Bhopal seem like a picnic downwind from the Arpege factory. — P. J. O'Rourke, Holidays in Hell, 1988 a play with pungent dialogue a pungent satire of current politics
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Recent Examples on the Web

Police have long used the exception to conduct vehicle searches based on the pungent, distinctive odor of pot. BostonGlobe.com, "Sniff and search is no longer the default for police in some of the 33 states that have legalized marijuana.," 17 Sep. 2019 Another focus of research is a group of chemicals called terpenes that give the marijuana plant its pungent aroma. San Diego Union-Tribune, "How much pot in that brownie? Chocolate can throw off tests," 26 Aug. 2019 Another focus of research is a group of chemicals called terpenes that give the marijuana plant its pungent aroma. Author: Carla K. Johnson, Anchorage Daily News, "How much pot in that brownie? Chocolate can throw off tests," 26 Aug. 2019 The cut is more flavorful than a normal cutlet, and the apricot mostarda makes a pungent and welcome counterpoint. New York Times, "A Hotel Restaurant With Neighborhood-Hangout Appeal," 15 May 2018 Leave the very crunchy, pungent, sticky, and problematic foods at home. Cynthia Drescher, Condé Nast Traveler, "Can You Bring Food on a Plane? Your Guide to Airport Security and Food," 6 Sep. 2019 The pungent, colorless liquid has antibacterial qualities and can be used as a preservative, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Here's a Machine That Turns Carbon Dioxide Into Liquid Fuel," 4 Sep. 2019 Thinly sliced, delicate hamachi is layered with pungent jalapeno and sweet orange segments,with olive oil adding a touch of richness to this light and refreshing compilation. Lindsey Mcclave, The Courier-Journal, "This Japanese restaurant on Bardstown Road falls short of serving A+ sushi," 4 Sep. 2019 The number actually refers to the five traditional Chinese elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water) and flavors (sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and acrid/pungent), of which five-spice achieves a harmonious balance. Sarah Jampel, Bon Appétit, "The Spice Blend That’s Great on Ribs (and Also in Cookies)," 20 Aug. 2019

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

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pungent

Latin pungent-, pungens, present participle of pungere to prick, sting; akin to Latin pugnus fist, pugnare to fight, Greek pygmē fist

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Statistics for pungent

Last Updated

16 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for pungent

The first known use of pungent was in 1598

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English Language Learners Definition of pungent

: having a strong, sharp taste or smell
: having a strong effect on the mind because of being clever and direct


pun·​gent | \ ˈpən-jənt How to pronounce pungent (audio) \

Kids Definition of pungent

: having a strong or sharp taste or smell a pungent odor

Other Words from pungent

pungently adverb


pun·​gent | \ -jənt How to pronounce pungent (audio) \

Medical Definition of pungent

: causing a sharp or irritating sensation especially : acrid

Other Words from pungent

pungently adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on pungent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pungent

Spanish Central: Translation of pungent

Nglish: Translation of pungent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pungent for Arabic Speakers

Comments on pungent

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


a topic to which one constantly reverts

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