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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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • These may not be piquant to him who has them always within his reach.

    Shakespeare's England William Winter
  • It was so much more beautiful to be dainty and small and piquant.

    The Gentleman From Indiana Booth Tarkington
  • “Vallarin” is a thick, pale yellow oil of a piquant and persistent taste and an odor peculiar to the plant.

  • Not all the sauces in Christendom could have made it so piquant and appetizing.

    An Orkney Maid Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr
  • You can't blame poor Arthur—she's quite a piquant looking little person.

    Alice Adams Booth Tarkington
  • It was a recollection of this that made the present situation so piquant and humorous.

  • Your system craves only the piquant sources of scandal and sarcasm, which can never satisfy it.

    The Potiphar Papers George William Curtis
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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