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[poin-yuh nt, poi-nuh nt] /ˈpɔɪn yənt, ˈpɔɪ nənt/
keenly distressing to the feelings:
poignant regret.
keen or strong in mental appeal:
a subject of poignant interest.
affecting or moving the emotions:
a poignant scene.
pungent to the smell:
poignant cooking odors.
1350-1400; Middle English poynaunt < Middle French poignant, present participle of poindre < Latin pungere to prick, pierce. See pungent, -ant
Related forms
poignantly, adverb
unpoignant, adjective
unpoignantly, adverb
1. intense, sincere, heartfelt. 4. piquant, sharp.
1, 2. mild. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for poignant
  • In an especially poignant scene, he admits that he has never had a romantic relationship.
  • Steinbeck's classic novel remains the most poignant portrait of that migration.
  • Some of the projects are poignant, others border on the bizarre.
  • The result is a satirically poignant account of an 11-month battle with breast cancer, initially fought without health insurance.
  • It's an honest, even poignant account of a young man fighting in a war.
  • There was a look of poignant agony, of despair, in her face.
  • For many of us, this disaster was a poignant reminder of the tradeoffs we make every day for energy resources.
  • But his joke was also a poignant plea.
  • It was a poignant moment of sporting conciliation in what had been a jarring weekend of dissolution.
  • There was no poignant moment at the finish despite the valiant duel.
British Dictionary definitions for poignant


/ˈpɔɪnjənt; -nənt/
sharply distressing or painful to the feelings
to the point; cutting or piercing poignant wit
keen or pertinent in mental appeal a poignant subject
pungent in smell
Derived Forms
poignancy, poignance, noun
poignantly, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Old French, from Latin pungens pricking, from pungere to sting, pierce, grieve
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 poignant
late 14c., "painful to physical or mental feeling," from O.Fr. poignant (13c.), prp. of poindre "to prick, sting," from L. pungere "to prick" (see pungent).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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