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[pee-kuh nt, -kahnt, pee-kahnt] /ˈpi kənt, -kɑnt, piˈkɑnt/
agreeably pungent or sharp in taste or flavor; pleasantly biting or tart:
a piquant aspic.
agreeably stimulating, interesting, or attractive:
a piquant glance.
of an interestingly provocative or lively character:
a piquant wit.
Archaic. sharp or stinging, especially to the feelings.
Origin of piquant
1515-25; < French: literally, pricking (see pique1, -ant); replacing pickante < Italian piccante
Related forms
piquancy, piquantness, noun
piquantly, adverb
1. spicy. 2. intriguing. 3. sharp, clever.
1. insipid. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for piquant
  • Unusual settings give a piquant, humorous tilt to her characters' misery.
  • Green sauces are invariably piquant and herbacious.
  • It's much more piquant to read that two powerful and rich ladies are feuding than a couple of small-town, small-time ones.
  • The best of our fish dishes was Dover sole, expertly deboned and served in a piquant lemon beurre blanc with capers.
  • In a piquant final twist, Grandma brings this forceful narrative full circle.
  • Actually it is light, fluffy and piquant when tossed with herbs and an oil-and-lemon dressing.
  • Consider this a parable or a metaphor or just a piquant coincidence.
  • The spacious room in which we sit is pervaded by the piquant scent of freshly cut white carnations.
  • That is, the ingredients she has compiled are first rate, and her book is filled with piquant and arcane details.
  • Its fine white meat is needed to give the bouillabaisse its piquant — almost sharp — taste.
British Dictionary definitions for piquant


/ˈpiːkənt; -kɑːnt/
having an agreeably pungent or tart taste
lively or stimulating to the mind
Derived Forms
piquancy, (rare) piquantness, noun
piquantly, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from French (literally: prickling), from piquer to prick, goad; see pique1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for piquant

1520s, from Middle French piquant "pricking, stimulating, irritating," present participle of piquer "to prick, sting, nettle" (see pike (n.2)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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