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

Other Words from pungent

pungently adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for pungent



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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 There’s nothing more pungent than the social position of lovers, friends, being in their way. Emiliano Granada, Variety, 20 Jan. 2022 Beyond that, the whiff of excess, which in so many ways defines New York, seems pungent again. Ginia Bellafante, New York Times, 30 Dec. 2021 Some of the less pungent varieties can be cut fresh for the vase, including Allium aflatunense varieties, A. sphaerocephalon and A. moly. Adrian Higgins, Washington Post, 20 Sep. 2021 Napa cabbage kimchi is the most familiar, but radishes, cucumbers, pungent greens, onions and more are preserved into more than 200 types of kimchi in Korea today. Paul Stephen, San Antonio Express-News, 26 May 2021 Plaintain chips because Johnny likes the 'little bananas,' manchego and blue cheese because dojangs and dojos are pungent. Andrew Oglesby, CNN, 31 Dec. 2021 Liquid myrrh was sometimes added to offset the tempera's rather pungent odor. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 3 Dec. 2021 The durian fruit is one of the smelliest fruits in the world, so much so, that many Thai hotels have banned the fruit because of its pungent odor. Cailey Rizzo, Travel + Leisure, 30 Nov. 2021 Those films are pungent and terrific; this one’s merely very good, hindered somewhat hypocritically by a narrative that marginalizes Julie’s search for a fuller self in favor of the male characters’ more dramatic situations. Michael Phillips, chicagotribune.com, 19 Oct. 2021

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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The first known use of pungent was in 1598

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Last Updated

23 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pungent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pungent. Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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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 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

More from Merriam-Webster on pungent

Nglish: Translation of pungent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pungent for Arabic Speakers


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