• synonyms


[pee-kuhnt, -kahnt, pee-kahnt]
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  1. agreeably pungent or sharp in taste or flavor; pleasantly biting or tart: a piquant aspic.
  2. agreeably stimulating, interesting, or attractive: a piquant glance.
  3. of an interestingly provocative or lively character: a piquant wit.
  4. Archaic. sharp or stinging, especially to the feelings.
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Origin of piquant

1515–25; < French: literally, pricking (see pique1, -ant); replacing pickante < Italian piccante
Related formspi·quan·cy, pi·quant·ness, nounpi·quant·ly, adverb


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1. spicy. 2. intriguing. 3. sharp, clever.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

relish, zest, flavoring, tang, sharpness, liveliness, salt, raciness, spice

Examples from the Web for piquancy

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He measured its value by its piquancy, by its adaptability to epigrammatic rhymes.

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for piquancy


  1. having an agreeably pungent or tart taste
  2. lively or stimulating to the mind
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Derived Formspiquancy or rare piquantness, nounpiquantly, adverb

Word Origin

C16: from French (literally: prickling), from piquer to prick, goad; see pique 1
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

Word Origin and History for piquancy


1660s, from piquant + -cy.

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1520s, from Middle French piquant "pricking, stimulating, irritating," present participle of piquer "to prick, sting, nettle" (see pike (n.2)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper