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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pungency
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The newspaper press he had assailed with a pungency and vigor which it in vain sought to rival.

    James Fenimore Cooper Thomas R. Lounsbury
  • At the same instant came an elusive whiff of pungency on the chill.

    The House in the Water Charles G. D. Roberts
  • With all the pungency, and nearly all the pleasantry of hers, it has less of spontaneous volubility.

  • Ripe berries lose in pungency and also fall off and are lost.

  • She listened now—and nodded at Mrs. Leverett's reasoning, adding the pungency of her sniff.

    A Little Girl in Old Boston Amanda Millie Douglas
  • How the freshness of this seasoning contrasts with the pungency of the spices which relieve it!

    Luxury-Gluttony: Eugne Sue
  • Hence the virtue and pungency of the influence on the mind, of natural objects, whether inorganic or organized.

    Essays Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • But there was a dense cloud of cigar smoke in the room, and mingled with its pungency were sweeter scents.

    Dope Sax Rohmer
  • Yet the satires on Mabilius, where spite and jealousy have stirred his genius, are striking for their volubility and pungency.

    Renaissance in Italy, Volume 2 (of 7) John Addington Symonds
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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