pun·gent | \ˈpən-jənt \

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


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


insipid, zestless

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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

In retrospect this was naïve because so much of the pot commonly smoked today is pungent enough to resist efforts to conceal it. Ginia Bellafante, New York Times, "Marijuana: The Signature Olfactory Experience of New York," 21 June 2018 An ice cream made from durian, the infamously pungent fruit? Charles Passy, WSJ, "One Dish Too Far: Japanese Fermented Soybeans," 15 June 2018 The host particularly frowned upon the pungent and sugary food found in the couple's fridge. Serenitie Wang, CNN, "Recovering from one child: China's growing fertility problem," 7 May 2018 For now, the answers—like the pungent scent of Mendocino cannabis that locals proudly pronounce the world’s best—are blowing in the wind. Jody Rosen, Smithsonian, "This Secret Corner of California Is a Paradise for Lovers of Great Food and Top-Notch Wines," 14 June 2018 And the Gorgonzola fries are a must: waffle fries dusted with the cheese, which provides a pungent punch, and chopped green onions. Robert Philpot, star-telegram, "Friday is Fry Day — National French Fry Day, that is. Here are a few faves.," 13 July 2018 The sweet, pungent, and addictive smell of sports gambling has been in the air for ages. Kevin Paul Dupont, BostonGlobe.com, "You can bet that sports bookies aren’t going away," 26 May 2018 The pungent aroma comes from sulfur compounds, including allicin. Alexandra Sifferlin, Time, "11 Best Foods For Your Immune System," 19 June 2018 In South Africa, plans are underway to build a rehabilitation center for sick or rescued pangolins as well as deploy sniffer dogs specially trained to detect the scales’ pungent aroma. Washington Post, "In South Africa, plans for a refuge for pangolins in peril," 16 June 2018

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 2018

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Time Traveler for pungent

The first known use of pungent was in 1598

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More Definitions for pungent



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 \

Kids Definition of pungent

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

Other Words from pungent

pungently adverb


pun·gent | \-jənt \

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

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