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2017 Word of the Year

poignant

[poin-yuh nt, poi-nuh nt] /ˈpɔɪn yənt, ˈpɔɪ nənt/
adjective
1.
keenly distressing to the feelings:
poignant regret.
2.
keen or strong in mental appeal:
a subject of poignant interest.
3.
affecting or moving the emotions:
a poignant scene.
4.
pungent to the smell:
poignant cooking odors.
Origin of poignant
1350-1400
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
Synonyms
1. intense, sincere, heartfelt. 4. piquant, sharp.
Antonyms
1, 2. mild.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for poignant
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She could not at first guess any possible cause for an emotion so poignant.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • Those were days of fond reminiscence and poignant regret on my part.

  • All at once the poignant and disgusting attack of the insects ceased.

    The Cruise of the Dry Dock T. S. Stribling
  • Thy heart is ingenuous and sincere; thy misfortune is poignant and affecting.

    Imogen William Godwin
  • Had I done so, how poignant would be my remorse at the retribution of our own sufferings, and the pity of those I had so injured!

    The Secret Memoirs of Louis XV./XVI, Complete Madame du Hausset, an "Unknown English Girl" and the Princess Lamballe
British Dictionary definitions for poignant

poignant

/ˈpɔɪnjənt; -nənt/
adjective
1.
sharply distressing or painful to the feelings
2.
to the point; cutting or piercing: poignant wit
3.
keen or pertinent in mental appeal: a poignant subject
4.
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
adj.

late 14c., "painful to physical or mental feeling" (of sauce, spice, wine as well as things that affect the feelings), from Old French poignant "sharp, pointed" (13c.), present participle of poindre "to prick, sting," from Latin pungere "to prick" (see pungent). Related: Poignantly.

The word disguises a linguistics trick-play, a double reverse. Latin pungere is from the same root as Latin pugnus "fist," and represents a metathesis of -n- and -g- that later was reversed in French.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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