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[puhn-juh nt] /ˈpʌn dʒənt/
sharply affecting the organs of taste or smell, as if by a penetrating power; biting; acrid.
acutely distressing to the feelings or mind; poignant.
caustic, biting, or sharply expressive:
pungent remarks.
mentally stimulating or appealing:
pungent wit.
Biology. piercing or sharp-pointed.
Origin of pungent
1590-1600; < Latin pungent- (stem of pungēns), present participle of pungere to prick. See poignant, point, -ent
Related forms
pungency, noun
pungently, adverb
nonpungency, noun
nonpungent, adjective
nonpungently, adverb
1. hot, peppery, piquant, sharp. 3. sarcastic, mordant, cutting; acrimonious, bitter. 4. keen, sharp.
1. mild, bland. 3. soothing. 4. dull. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pungency
  • And it comes in all degrees of pungency from mild to spicy hot and in colors ranging from dark red to green or white.
  • The pungency is supposed to mellow after it sits for a couple days.
  • Not always wholly immune from cliché, there is nevertheless a pungency to their honesty.
  • Also, the background sweetness and pungency overwhelmed the heat.
  • Concentrated urine also has a stronger pungency, so drinking plenty of fluids can help reduce odor.
  • One is as a seasonal calendar, its pungency changing with the tides and temperature.
  • Naturally occurring ammonia in chicken feces adds a special pungency to indoor operations.
  • Nothing is so good to teach the use of materials, and to compel to pungency of style.
  • Wasabi loses much of its flavor and pungency within minutes after it's grated, and so its preparation is timely.
  • The pungency of the arugula had been tamed, yet there was still some distinctive vegetable flavor.
British Dictionary definitions for pungency


having an acrid smell or sharp bitter flavour
(of wit, satire, etc) biting; caustic
(biology) ending in a sharp point: a pungent leaf
Derived Forms
pungency, noun
pungently, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Latin pungens piercing, from pungere to prick
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 pungency

1640s, from pungent + -cy.



1590s, "sharp, poignant" (of pain or grief), from Latin pungentem (nominative pungens), present participle of pungere "to prick, pierce, sting," figuratively, "to vex, grieve, trouble, afflict," related to pugnus "fist" (see pugnacious). Meaning "having powerful odor or taste" first recorded 1660s. Literal sense "sharp, pointed" (c.1600) is very rare in English, mostly limited to botany. Middle English and early Modern English also had a now-obsolete verb punge "to prick, pierce; to smart, cause to sting," from Latin pungere. Related: Pungently.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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