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


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)


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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

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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.

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

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