Monday, August 23, 2004

Etymology Today from M-W: poignant \POY-nyunt\
1 : pungently pervasive
2 a (1) painfully affecting the feelings : piercing *(2) deeply affecting : touching b : designed to make an impression : cutting
3 a : pleasurably stimulating b : being to the point : apt

"Poignant" comes to us from Anglo-French, and before that from Latin — specifically, the Latin verb "pungere," meaning "to prick or sting." Several other common English words derive from "pungere," including "pungent," which can refer to, among other things, a "sharp" odor. The influence of "pungere" can also be seen in "puncture," as well as "punctual," which originally meant simply "of or relating to a point." Even "compunction" and "expunge" come from this pointedly relevant Latin word.

Previous E.T.

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