poignant

Something that is poignant touches you deeply. Watching a poignant YouTube video about baby penguins chasing their mothers, for example, might give you a lump in your throat.

Poignant comes from the Latin pungere "to prick," the same root as pungent. But something that's pungent pricks your sense of smell, whereas poignant refers to something that pricks your emotions, especially in a melancholy way. Movie critics might describe a touching portrayal as poignant if there isn't a dry eye in the house.

Definitions of poignant
  1. adjective
    keenly distressing to the mind or feelings
    poignant anxiety”
    Synonyms:
    painful
    causing physical or psychological pain
  2. adjective
    arousing affect
    poignant grief cannot endure forever”
    synonyms: affecting, touching
    moving
    arousing or capable of arousing deep emotion
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