Definition of pungent in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpənjənt/


1Having a sharply strong taste or smell: the pungent smell of frying onions
More example sentences
  • Raw ginger has a refreshing smell and a pungent taste that most people like.
  • However, in our laboratory a strong pungent smell had been noticed in the morning, after overnight sterilization.
  • After four days, the beer however deteriorates and develops a vinegary and pungent smell and taste.
strong, powerful, pervasive, penetrating;
sharp, acid, sour, biting, bitter, tart, vinegary, tangy;
highly flavored, aromatic, spicy, piquant, peppery, hot
1.1(Of comment, criticism, or humor) having a sharp and caustic quality.
Example sentences
  • Bambooque's criticism is sharp and pungent, but without being limited to the leader.
  • The Duke of Norfolk, in the next row, offered pungent comments about one or two of them.
  • She has some pungent comments about the spineless response to terrorism.
caustic, biting, trenchant, cutting, acerbic, sardonic, sarcastic, scathing, acrimonious, barbed, sharp, tart, incisive, bitter, venomous, waspish



Pronunciation: /ˈpənjənsē/
Example sentences
  • Bush tomatoes have an intense, earthy-tomato and caramel flavor of great piquancy and pungency.
  • The oils have the pepper aroma and flavour but lack pungency.
  • Such levels of spices can be comfortably consumed in the regular diet, except when their consumption is limited by the pungency (red pepper) or strong odour (garlic).


Pronunciation: /ˈpənj(ə)ntlē/
Example sentences
  • Horses, on the other hand, gave off less offensive odours; harnessed to a mowing machine or harvester, in the heat of an autumn day, they emitted a sweaty smell and pungently broke wind.
  • Hepungently assesses the disgusting abdication of moral responsibility being displayed by Europe over the race to acquire nuclear weapons.
  • There is a whiff of conspiracy in the air and it reeks pungently of Chardonnay glugging down the plug hole and just a dash of carpet-trampled kettle chips.


Late 16th century (in the sense 'very painful or distressing'): from Latin pungent- 'pricking', from the verb pungere.

  • poignant from Late Middle English:

    Something that makes you feel a keen sense of sadness or regret can be described as poignant. This comes from an Old French word that meant ‘pricking’ and derived from Latin pungere, ‘to prick’. Back in the Middle Ages you could describe a weapon as poignant, meaning that it had a sharp point. The word could also be applied to sharp tastes or smells, as in ‘a poignant sauce’ or ‘a poignant scent’. This sense is now covered by the related word pungent (late 16th century), which originally meant ‘very painful or distressing’ and at one time could also mean ‘telling or convincing’, as in Samuel Pepys's reference to ‘a very good and pungent sermon’. The slim dagger called a poinard (mid 16th century) may look as if it should be related, particularly as it is often spelt with a ‘g’ in early texts. However, this illustrates the danger of jumping to conclusions in etymologies. It gets its name from the fact that it is held in the fist, from Latin pugnus ‘fist’. This is also the source, via pugnare ‘to fight’, of pugnacious (mid 17th century). See also point

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: pun·gent

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