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 As a man hiked last month through lush terrain in Waipio, a town on Hawaii’s Oahu island, a pungent stench suddenly wafted past him. Washington Post, 18 Nov. 2021 As a man hiked last month through lush terrain in Waipio, a town on Hawaii’s Oahu island, a pungent stench suddenly wafted past him. Jaclyn Peiser, Anchorage Daily News, 18 Nov. 2021 That French brand of Gournay cheese has lent its distinctive smooth yet slightly crumbly texture and pungent garlic-and-herb flavor to countless memorable party spreads since its release in 1957. Paul Stephen, San Antonio Express-News, 15 Nov. 2021 The pungent foam contains high levels of ammonia and phosphates, which can result in respiratory and skin problems, according to experts. Rhea Mogul And Esha Mitra, CNN, 10 Nov. 2021 The post-bedtime pick-up, a necessary unpleasantry for tired and protective parents the world over, was, for Cave, a pungent source of inspiration. Lauren Mechling, Vogue, 5 Nov. 2021 Baby arugula provides peppery notes in a spin on puttanesca with briny olives and pungent chilies. BostonGlobe.com, 3 Nov. 2021 Shu Express reflects that, serving foods pungent with garlic and peppercorns and spiced with chili peppers that are dried, ground, paste, oil, marinated. Susan Dunne, courant.com, 27 Oct. 2021 The fatty meat and wok hei work well together to enunciate the charred flavor in each bite, offset by pungent Thai basil and young green peppercorns. Soleil Ho, San Francisco Chronicle, 26 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

1 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pungent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pungent. Accessed 1 Dec. 2021.

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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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