Definition of poignant in English:



  • 1Evoking a keen sense of sadness or regret.

    ‘a poignant reminder of the passing of time’
    • ‘People that are good at it and adept at it can be very guttural and gutsy and dark and moving and poignant all at the same time.’
    • ‘It's a poignant, almost heartbreaking portrait of urban American loneliness, alienation and obsession.’
    • ‘Funny, touching, moving and poignant - this could be one of the most affecting shows the Alhambra has staged.’
    • ‘It's a humorous, serious, poignant, moving script, that genuinely explores the value and meaning of education.’
    • ‘It is a philosophical tearjerker, a poignant romance for the intellectual set, and a touching character study.’
    • ‘He can be rather repetitive, but his best work has great delicacy of colour and handling and a poignant sense of lost innocence.’
    • ‘The play follows the story of one man's fight to save his land, combining poignant drama with a sense of humour.’
    • ‘And though these words may belong to the big screen, they will haunt us whenever we recall the poignant scenes from the moving film.’
    • ‘That memory, painful and poignant, still inspires the Scot.’
    • ‘This debut may remind some readers of Lorrie Moore's dry and poignant tragicomedy.’
    • ‘The sense of occasion and history was also made more poignant by the pageantry that accompanied it.’
    • ‘This is a show with a sense of fun, a poignant side, a lesson to be learnt about family life and a little sprinkling of magic.’
    • ‘Could they, for example, feed one half of the audience with a sound to make them laugh, while the other half heard something poignant or distressing?’
    • ‘A poignant and moving text tucked away on the page seems to sum it all up.’
    • ‘It was a touching and poignant afternoon as friends gathered to show their respects to a man who had remained loyal and ever faithful to the ideals of Comhaltas.’
    • ‘So often it's as much about what isn't said between people that's poignant, disturbing and moving.’
    • ‘For people of any age coming to terms with grief, this is a poignant and moving account, beautifully illustrated and sparingly written.’
    • ‘It is a book that can be witty, moving or poignant, all at the same time.’
    • ‘This was a moving, poignant ceremony, which gave solace to the parents and families.’
    • ‘It is true that I have, like many who choose to write for a living, exaggerated senses of the absurd and the poignant.’
    touching, moving, sad, saddening, affecting, pitiful, piteous, pitiable, pathetic, sorrowful, mournful, tearful, wretched, miserable, bitter, painful, distressing, disturbing, heart-rending, heartbreaking, tear-jerking, plaintive, upsetting, tragic
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    1. 1.1archaic Sharp or pungent in taste or smell.
      ‘the poignant scent of her powder’
      • ‘Old memories returned to her in that split second, followed by poignant smells and visions a past where her world was nothing less than a fairy tale.’


Late Middle English: from Old French, literally ‘pricking’, present participle of poindre, from Latin pungere ‘to prick’.