Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Affecting the organs of taste or smell with a sharp acrid sensation.
  • adj. Penetrating, biting, or caustic: pungent satire.
  • adj. To the point; sharp: pungent talks during which the major issues were confronted.
  • adj. Pointed: a pungent leaf.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Having a strong odor that stings the nose, said especially of acidic or spicy substances.
  • adj. Having a strong taste that stings the tongue, said especially of hot (spicy) food, which has a strong and sharp or bitter taste.
  • adj. Having a sharp and stiff point.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Causing a sharp sensation, as of the taste, smell, or feelings; pricking; biting; acrid.
  • adj. Sharply painful; penetrating; poignant; severe; caustic; stinging.
  • adj. Prickly-pointed; hard and sharp.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Piercing; sharp.
  • Specifically — In botany, terminating gradually in a hard sharp point, as the lobes of the holly-leaf.
  • In entomology, fitted for piercing or penetrating: as, a pungent ovipositor.
  • Sharp and painful; poignant.
  • Affecting the tongue like small sharp points; stinging; acrid.
  • Sharply affecting the sense of smell: as, pungent snuff.
  • Hence, sharply affecting the mind; curt and expressive; caustic; racy; biting.
  • Synonyms Sharp, stinging, keen, peppery, acrid, caustic. Piquant, Pungent, Poignant. That which is piquant is just tart enough to be agreeable; that which is pungent is so tart that, if it were more so, it would be positively disagreeable; that which is poignant is likely to prove actually disagreeable to most persons. Pungent is manifestly figurative when not applied to the sense of taste, or, less often, of smell; piquant is similar, but less forcible; poignant is now used chiefly of mental states, etc., as poignant grief, or of things affecting the mind, as poignant wit.
  • In ichthyology, stiff and sharp-pointed: as, a pungent spine.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. strong and sharp
  • adj. capable of wounding

Etymologies

Latin pungēns, pungent-, present participle of pungere, to sting.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin pungens (stem pungent-), present participle of pungo ("to sting"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • It's a strongly-flvoured salad, pretty pungent from the raw garlic and onion, so really letting the veggies marinate (add some cubed up tofu too for yummy protein "sponges"!) as long as possible is key to avoiding a mouthful of fire!

    Archive 2008-09-01

  • However, such a proximate (immediate cause) explanation does not address the ultimate (evolutionary) questions of why cuisines that contain pungent plant products appeal to people and why some phytochemicals are tastier than others.

    Archive 2005-06-01

  • Mrs. Carlyle's writings whatever was of most literary merit or popular interest; but they are still intrinsically worthy of publication, for even her "notekins," as her husband called them, contain pungent particles and happy turns of expression, while adscititiously they deserve attention, because they clear up/[Page vi]/some obscure points in a complicated controversy and help towards a just judgment of two prominent figures in our English Pantheon.

    New Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle

  • Rather it left me with eyes that almost rolled up to the back of my head, as the odor of this could best be described as pungent, which is not a useful feature for a hand sanitizer.

    Epinions Recent Content for Home

  • My Mas Arai series is very culturally "pungent" -- only certain groups of readers will be attracted to my books.

    "Regional" -- Oblivion or Jumping Point?

  • Mr. Palmieri's career traced a restless and inventive path without ever losing its footing in dance-oriented rhythms, always showcasing his remarkable piano playing—characterized by pungent harmonies, stinging dissonances and sheer power.

    The Power of the Patriarch

  • Given the many possibilities for confusion, I agree with Alan Davidson and others that we should refer to pungent capsicums with the original and unambiguous Nahuatl name chilli.

    On Food and Cooking, The Science and Lore of the Kitchen

  • We recall the pungent still-life of "To Autumn" with its opening imagery of "mellow fruitfulness," "ripeness to the core" and "clammy cells" — a scene suffused with tactile and olfactory sensation.

    The Voice of Critique: Aesthetic Cognition After Kant,

  • I'm bracing myself to be met by heat, humidity, mosquitoes and what Kerry describes as a pungent odor.

    TravelPod.com TravelStream™ — Recent Entries at TravelPod.com

  • Chilli peppersCapsaicin, the principle "pungent" chemical in chilli peppers, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer actions.

    What's in your basket, Gael García Bernal?

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    July 20, 2009