- The definition of poignant is something that has a strong effect on emotions or the senses, especially smell.
An example of poignant is the anniversary of September 11th for those who lost loved ones in the 2001 attacks.
- sharp or pungent to the smell or, formerly, the taste
- keenly affecting the other senses: poignant beauty
- sharply painful to the feelings; piercing
- evoking pity, compassion, etc.; emotionally touching or moving
- sharp, biting, penetrating, pointed, etc.: poignant wit
Origin of poignantMiddle English poynant ; from Middle French poignant, present participle of poindre ; from Classical Latin pungere, to prick: see point
- a. Arousing deep emotion, especially pity or sorrow; touching: a poignant memory; a poignant story. See Synonyms at moving.b. Keenly distressing to the mind or feelings: poignant anxiety.c. Physically painful: “Keen, poignant agonies seemed to shoot from his neck downward” (Ambrose Bierce).
- Piercing; incisive: poignant criticism.
- Agreeably intense or stimulating: “It was a poignant delight to breathe the keen air” (Joseph A. Altsheler).
- Archaic a. Sharp or sour to the taste; piquant.b. Sharp or pungent to the smell.
Origin of poignantMiddle English poinaunt, from Old French poignant, present participle of poindre, to prick, from Latin pungere; see peuk- in Indo-European roots.
- poign′ance, poign′an·cy
(comparative more poignant, superlative most poignant)
- Incisive; penetrating.
- His comments were poignant and witty.
- neat; eloquent; applicable; relevant.
- A poignant reply will garner more credence than hours of blown smoke.
- Evoking strong mental sensation, to the point of distress; emotionally moving.
- Flipping through his high school yearbook evoked many a poignant memory of yesteryear.
- (figuratively, of a taste or smell) Piquant, pungent.
- (figuratively, of a look, or of words) Piercing.
- (dated, mostly British) Inducing sharp physical pain.