Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Profoundly moving; touching: a poignant memory. See Synonyms at moving.
  • adj. Physically painful: "Keen, poignant agonies seemed to shoot from his neck downward” ( Ambrose Bierce).
  • adj. Keenly distressing to the mind or feelings: poignant anxiety.
  • adj. Piercing; incisive: poignant criticism.
  • adj. Neat, skillful, and to the point: poignant illustrations supplementing the text.
  • adj. Astute and pertinent; relevant: poignant suggestions.
  • adj. Agreeably intense or stimulating: poignant delight.
  • adj. Archaic Sharp or sour to the taste; piquant.
  • adj. Archaic Sharp or pungent to the smell.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Sharp-pointed; keen.
  • adj. Incisive; penetrating.
  • adj. neat; eloquent; applicable; relevant.
  • adj. Evoking strong mental sensation, to the point of distress; emotionally moving.
  • adj. Piquant, pungent.
  • adj. Piercing.
  • adj. Inducing sharp physical pain.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Pricking; piercing; sharp; pungent.
  • adj. Fig.: Pointed; keen; satirical.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Sharp to the taste; biting; piquant; pungent.
  • Pointed; keen; sharp.
  • Keen; bitter; satirical; hence, telling; striking.
  • Severe; piercing; very painful or acute: as, poignant pain or grief.
  • Synonyms and Piquant, etc. (see pungent), sharp, penetrating, intense, biting, acrid, caustic.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. arousing affect
  • adj. keenly distressing to the mind or feelings

Etymologies

Middle English poinaunt, from Old French poignant, present participle of poindre, to prick, from Latin pungere.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Anglo-Norman poynaunt, puignant et al., Middle French poignant, present participle of poindre ("to prick"), from Latin pungō ("prick"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • To "King" and others who mope like him, people - regardless of their party affiliation or ideology - cannot honestly have their perceptions modified or even tantalized by what they identify as poignant and powerfully moving moments.

    Latest Articles

  • Especially poignant is TV host Dave Holmes 'eloquent description of what it's like to be different as a young person.

    Lisa Kaas Boyle: It Will Get Better: Speaking out on Gay Suicides

  • The reason I find this so poignant is that I was born in France in 1951, the son of a young US government economist, Joel Bernstein, who was on assignment by the U.S. State Department to work on the Marshall plan.

    Jonathan Bernstein: Third World America -- How to Prevent our Crisis From Becoming a Disaster

  • He tells us, in poignant and inspiring language, that the God he believes in is a God that is never disappointed with us, never doubts us and never gives up on us.

    Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater: Hope in the Fog of Fear

  • Of many endeavors, one of the most poignant is Camp Felix, which provides a place for foster children to go in the summer where they can enjoy the same sort of support he enjoyed as a child, that launched him to such great success.

    Elizabeth Nicholas: Children's Rights at the Plaza

  • He continues to grow people with disabilities in poignant roles ... he never writes down to the people.

    Deborah Calla: Awarding for Ability, Not Disability

  • Personally, the coverage I've found most poignant is this piece about the time Michael Jackson inadvertantly dropped his sequined glove in the toilet.

    PETRONA

  • The author, Olajide Williams, a Columbia University neurologist (and an attending neurologist at Harlem Hospital), … illustrates all aspects of stroke epidemiology and pathophysiology in poignant case histories from his own files, stories told in a way that makes each one human.

    HW Pick: Stroke Diaries: A Guide for Survivors and their Families «

  • The discourse on global warming at 50graus. org is delivered in poignant actions, words and visual communication about our fears, understanding and hopes for the planet.

    ICE PENGUINS by 50graus/50degrees | Inhabitat

  • Also new at Midnight Eye, Dean Bowman: "Kwaidan harks back to a time when the ghost story was not a vehicle for delivering as many gore-ridden shocks to the audience as possible, but was concerned with creating a dense emotional atmosphere, rich in poignant moments of sadness and a pervasive sense of loss."

    GreenCine Daily: Midnight Eye. 3/07.

Comments

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  • The film ends with a soliloquy by Telly about how without sex he would have nothing to live for, as well as a poignant look at several early-morning junkies on the streets of New York City. Kids 1995

    March 11, 2014

  • The film ends with a soliloquy by Telly about how without sex he would have nothing to live for, as well as a poignant look at several early-morning junkies on the streets of New York City.

    March 11, 2014

  • One of my favourite words – something capable of puncturing the most shielded heart.

    October 13, 2009

  • I think the g in the middle of this word is exquisitely poignant bit.

    November 14, 2008

  • December 13, 2006