pungent

pungent, piquant, poignant, racy, spicy, snappy are comparable when they mean characterized by sharpness, zest, and a piercing or gripping quality.
Pungent applies especially to a sharp, piercing, stinging, biting, or penetrating quality, primarily of odors; it may suggest power to excite or stimulate keen interest or telling force and cogency
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her perfume, a sweet pungent odor . . . evocative and compelling— Styron

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the pungent reek of a strong cigarDoyle

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his pungent pen played its part in rousing the nation to its later struggle with the Crown— J. R. Green

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the mob needs concrete goals and the pungent thrill of hate in order to give vent to its destructive impulses— Cohen

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Piquant may indicate an interesting or appetizing tartness, sharpness, or pungency that stimulates or a zestful, arch, provocative, challenging, or exciting quality that is individual or peculiar
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a piquant sauce

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piquant with the tart-sweet taste of green apples and sugar— Spitzer

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piquant touch of innocent malice in his narration— Coulton

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those piquant incongruities, which are the chief material of wit— Montague

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Poignant (see also MOVING) may describe what is sharply or piercingly effective upon the senses or stirring to one's inmost con-sciousness or deepest emotions
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the air of romantic poverty which Rosalie found so tragically poignantWylie

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with poignant finality, as a lover might put away a rose from a lost romance— Turnbull

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a vague but poignant sense of discouragement that the sacrifices of the war had not been justified by its results spread over the country— Handling

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Racy may suggest verve, dash, tang, or vitality manifested with lively free heartiness
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writes a racy, sometimes almost lusty prose, entirely suited to describing a group of down-to-earth hard-living people— Sherberg

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a rare and racy sense of humor— Maugham

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Sometimes the term may carry the additional hint of passing beyond the bounds of propriety or good taste
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considered too racy for the ladies and was read aloud only at a stag meeting— Newsweek

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if men yawn ... the singers will sweep into an especially racy and obscene offering— Julian Dana

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Spicy describes what is seasoned or made redolent of spice; in extended uses it may suggest the piquant, smart, spirited, sensational, or scandalous
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flair for a spicy zestful vernacular in dialogue— Rees

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spicy tales of the type which usually appear in paper- bound copies, in which bishops are forced to visit nudist camps in their underwear— Robertson Davies

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Snappy suggests briskness, animation, dash, wit, or risqué quality
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spoken in a snappy, matter-of-fact way— Lindsay

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the renditions, if not especially lovely, were at all times spirited, neat, and snappyVirgil Thomson

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taken one look at ... a campus publication, decided that the contents are too snappy, and expelled the editor— N. Y. Times

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Analogous words: *incisive, trenchant, biting, cutting: penetrating, piercing, probing (see ENTER): exciting, stimulating, provoking or provocative (see corresponding verbs at PROVOKE)
Antonyms: bland

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pungent — Pun gent, a. [L. pungens, entis, p. pr. of pungere, punctum, to prick. Cf. {Compunction}, {Expunge}, {Poignant}, {Point}, n., {Puncheon}, {Punctilio}, {Punt}, v. t.] 1. Causing a sharp sensation, as of the taste, smell, or feelings; pricking;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • pungent — [adj1] highly flavored acid, acrid, aromatic, bitter, effluvious, hot, nosey*, odoriferous, peppery, piquant, poignant, racy, rich, salty, seasoned, sharp, snappy, sour, spicy, stinging, stinking*, strong, tangy, tart, whiffy*, zesty; concept 613 …   New thesaurus

  • pungent — [pun′jənt] adj. [L pungens, prp. of pungere, to prick, puncture: see POINT] 1. producing a sharp sensation of taste and smell; acrid 2. sharp and piercing to the mind; poignant; painful 3. sharply penetrating; expressive; biting [pungent… …   English World dictionary

  • pungent — index bitter (acrid tasting), caustic, incisive, mordacious, trenchant Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • pungent — 1590s, sharp, poignant (of pain or grief), from L. pungentem (nom. pungens), prp. of pungere to prick, pierce, sting, related to pugnus fist (see PUGNACIOUS (Cf. pugnacious)). Meaning having powerful odor or taste first recorded 1660s. Literal… …   Etymology dictionary

  • pungent — ► ADJECTIVE 1) having a sharply strong taste or smell. 2) (of remarks or humour) sharp and caustic. DERIVATIVES pungency noun pungently adverb. ORIGIN from Latin pungere to prick …   English terms dictionary

  • pungent — adjective Etymology: Latin pungent , pungens, present participle of pungere to prick, sting; akin to Latin pugnus fist, pugnare to fight, Greek pygmē fist Date: 1597 1. sharply painful 2. having a stiff and sharp point < pungent leaves > 3. a.… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • pungent — [[t]pʌ̱nʤ(ə)nt[/t]] 1) ADJ GRADED Something that is pungent has a strong, sharp smell or taste which is often so strong that it is unpleasant. The more herbs you use, the more pungent the sauce will be. ...the pungent smell of burning rubber. Syn …   English dictionary

  • pungent — pun|gent [ˈpʌndʒənt] adj [Date: 1500 1600; : Latin; Origin: , present participle of pungere to prick, sting ] 1.) having a strong taste or smell pungent smell/aroma/odour etc ▪ the pungent odour of garlic 2.) formal pungent speech or writing is… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • pungent — adjective 1 a pungent taste or smell is strong and sharp: the pungent aroma of garlic 2 pungent remarks or writing criticize something in a very direct and clever way: a few typically pungent remarks from Senator Moynihan pungently adverb… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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