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[poin-yuh nt, poi-nuh nt] /ˈpɔɪn yənt, ˈpɔɪ nənt/

keenly distressing to the feelings:
poignant regret.
keen or strong in mental appeal:
a subject of poignant interest.
affecting or moving the emotions:
a poignant scene.
pungent to the smell:
poignant cooking odors.
/ˈpɔɪnjənt; -nənt/
sharply distressing or painful to the feelings
to the point; cutting or piercing: poignant wit
keen or pertinent in mental appeal: a poignant subject
pungent in smell

late 14c., “painful to physical or mental feeling” (of sauce, spice, wine as well as things that affect the feelings), from Old French poignant “sharp, pointed” (13c.), present participle of poindre “to prick, sting,” from Latin pungere “to prick” (see pungent). Related: Poignantly.

The word disguises a linguistics trick-play, a double reverse. Latin pungere is from the same root as Latin pugnus “fist,” and represents a metathesis of -n- and -g- that later was reversed in French.


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