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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for piquancy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He measured its value by its piquancy, by its adaptability to epigrammatic rhymes.

    The Life of Cesare Borgia Raphael Sabatini
  • Call it, for the sake of piquancy, "Beethoven and Esterhazy."

    Old Fogy James Huneker
  • He imagined that that sort of thing lent a piquancy to conversation.

    A Venetian June

    Anna Fuller
  • And it gains in piquancy from the fact that everybody knows the personages.

    A Chambermaid's Diary Octave Mirbeau
  • He was more famous for his wit than his wisdom; for his piquancy than for piety.

    One Irish Summer William Eleroy Curtis
  • Together, amused by the piquancy of it, they raided the liquor-chest.

    Beginners Luck Emily Hahn
  • No doubt the piquancy of the life attracts them in many such cases.

    New Worlds For Old Herbert George Wells
  • She was one of those women who like the piquancy and freedom of French fiction.

    Sir Tom Mrs. Oliphant
  • Man, dealing with natural things, constantly aims to increase their piquancy.

    Whitman John Burroughs
British Dictionary definitions for piquancy


/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 piquancy

1660s, from piquant + -cy.



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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