Definition of poignant in US English:



  • 1Evoking a keen sense of sadness or regret.

    ‘a poignant reminder of the passing of time’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The sense of occasion and history was also made more poignant by the pageantry that accompanied it.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘For people of any age coming to terms with grief, this is a poignant and moving account, beautifully illustrated and sparingly written.’
    • ‘That memory, painful and poignant, still inspires the Scot.’
    • ‘This was a moving, poignant ceremony, which gave solace to the parents and families.’
    • ‘So often it's as much about what isn't said between people that's poignant, disturbing and moving.’
    • ‘It's a humorous, serious, poignant, moving script, that genuinely explores the value and meaning of education.’
    • ‘A poignant and moving text tucked away on the page seems to sum it all up.’
    • ‘It is true that I have, like many who choose to write for a living, exaggerated senses of the absurd and the poignant.’
    • ‘And though these words may belong to the big screen, they will haunt us whenever we recall the poignant scenes from the moving film.’
    • ‘It is a book that can be witty, moving or poignant, all at the same time.’
    • ‘It's a poignant, almost heartbreaking portrait of urban American loneliness, alienation and obsession.’
    • ‘It is a philosophical tearjerker, a poignant romance for the intellectual set, and a touching character study.’
    • ‘This debut may remind some readers of Lorrie Moore's dry and poignant tragicomedy.’
    • ‘He can be rather repetitive, but his best work has great delicacy of colour and handling and a poignant sense of lost innocence.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The play follows the story of one man's fight to save his land, combining poignant drama with a sense of humour.’
    • ‘Funny, touching, moving and poignant - this could be one of the most affecting shows the Alhambra has staged.’
    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.
      • ‘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’.