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1580s, from Middle French poinard (early 16c.), from Old French poignal "dagger," literally "anything grasped with the fist," from poing "fist," from Latin pungus "fist," from PIE root *peuk- (see pugnacious). Probably altered in French by association with poindre "to stab." Cf. Latin pugnus "fist," pugio "dagger." As a verb from c.1600.