poignant

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English poynaunt, poynant, borrowed from Anglo-Norman puignant, poynaunt etc., present participle of poindre (to prick), from Latin pungō (prick). Doublet of pungent.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (General American, Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈpɔɪn.jənt/, /ˈpɔɪɲ.ənt/
  • (obsolete) IPA(key): /ˈpɔɪ.nənt/
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  • Hyphenation: poign‧ant (per American Heritage and Random House); poi‧gnant (per Merriam-Webster)

Adjective[edit]

poignant (comparative more poignant, superlative most poignant)

  1. (obsolete, of a weapon, etc.) Sharp-pointed; keen.
  2. Neat; eloquent; applicable; relevant.
    A poignant reply will garner more credence than hours of blown smoke.
  3. Evoking strong mental sensation, to the point of distress; emotionally moving.
    Synonyms: distressing, moving
    Flipping through his high school yearbook evoked many a poignant memory of yesteryear.
    • 1905, Edith Wharton, chapter XIV, in The House of Mirth, New York, N.Y.: Charles Scribner’s Sons, OCLC 909409573, book II, page 528:
      The shabby chest of drawers was spread with a lace cover, and set out with a few gold-topped boxes and bottles, a rose-coloured pin-cushion, a glass tray strewn with tortoise-shell hair[-]pins—he shrank from the poignant intimacy of these trifles, and from the blank surface of the toilet-mirror above them.
    • 2004, Andrew Radford, Minimalist Syntax: Exploring the Structure of English, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, §1.4, page 13:
      A particularly poignant example of this is a child called Genie (see Curtiss 1977; Rymer 1993), who was deprived of speech input and kept locked up on her own in a room until age thirteen. When eventually taken into care and exposed to intensive language input, her vocabulary grew enormously, but her syntax never developed.
    • 2021 February 9, Christina Newland, “Is Tom Hanks part of a dying breed of genuine movie stars?”, in BBC[1]:
      Hanks shepherds the young girl to safety – first brusquely, and then with a sudden outburst of affection made all the more poignant for the way it is reserved previously. He once again reminds us, quite literally, that he is in many ways the ultimate dad.
  4. (figuratively, of a smell, taste) Piquant, pungent.
  5. (figuratively, of a look, word) Incisive; penetrating; piercing.
    His comments were poignant and witty.
  6. (chiefly Britain, dated) Inducing sharp physical pain.

Related terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  • OED 2nd edition 1989
  • Webster Third New International 1986

Anagrams[edit]


French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Old French poignant, present participle of poindre. Possibly corresponds to Latin pungēns, pungentem[1].

Pronunciation[edit]

Participle[edit]

poignant

  1. present participle of poindre
  2. present participle of poigner

Adjective[edit]

poignant (feminine poignante, masculine plural poignants, feminine plural poignantes)

  1. poignant

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]


Old French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Present participle of poindre. Possibly corresponds to Latin pungēns, pungentem.

Verb[edit]

poignant

  1. present participle of poindre

Adjective[edit]

poignant m (oblique and nominative feminine singular poignant or poignante)

  1. pointed; pointy

Descendants[edit]

  • English: poignant
  • French: poignant