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  1. sharply affecting the organs of taste or smell, as if by a penetrating power; biting; acrid.
  2. acutely distressing to the feelings or mind; poignant.
  3. caustic, biting, or sharply expressive: pungent remarks.
  4. mentally stimulating or appealing: pungent wit.
  5. Biology. piercing or sharp-pointed.
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Origin of pungent

1590–1600; < Latin pungent- (stem of pungēns), present participle of pungere to prick. See poignant, point, -ent
Related formspun·gen·cy, nounpun·gent·ly, adverbnon·pun·gen·cy, nounnon·pun·gent, adjectivenon·pun·gent·ly, adverb


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1. mild, bland. 3. soothing. 4. dull.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for pungent


  1. having an acrid smell or sharp bitter flavour
  2. (of wit, satire, etc) biting; caustic
  3. biology ending in a sharp pointa pungent leaf
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Derived Formspungency, nounpungently, 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

Word Origin and History for pungent


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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper