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Poignant denotes touching and significant, but typically with a negative connotation.
Is there a word that means the same, but has a positive connotation?

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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is based on the misconception that poignant has negative connotations. Jun 26, 2014 at 15:17
  • possible duplicate of What's the difference between "harrowing" and "poignant"? Jun 26, 2014 at 15:50
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    Have you done a thesaurus search on "poignant"? I'll bet there are other words or phrases that may have a slightly different flavor - such as "heart-felt moment", "touching", "meaningful", etc. Jun 26, 2014 at 16:08
  • 'Poignant' is the often painful counterpart of the often pleasurable 'piquant'. 'Connotation' is misused in the question, but the particular misuse is common; the question is also overstating the case with respect to senses of 'poignant', but the same would hold true of a reversal with reference to piquant: "Piguant denotes touching and significant, but is often used to refer to pleasurably stimulating or fascinating sensations or ideas. Is there a word that has that same general sense, but is often used to refer to painfully stimulating or fascinating sensations or ideas (poignant)?"
    – JEL
    Sep 2, 2016 at 5:04

2 Answers 2

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As far as I know, poignant does have a positive connotation, meaning something that is moving or touching but also slightly painful. One wouldn't describe an event as a 'poignant tribute' if it had a negative connotation.

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  • Agreed. There is no negative connotation to poignant. Words that have a negative connotation are words like mawkish, blubbery, even sentimental. Jun 26, 2014 at 15:18
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    The negativity is in the sadness (cf heart-rending) of poignancy, which normally refers to the past; there is always some regret in reviewing the past, and that's part of being poignant. But not necessarily a big part, I agree. Jun 26, 2014 at 16:52
  • @FeliniusRex: Or lugubrious. Don Jun 26, 2014 at 21:10
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How about heart-warming? Others which spring to mind include

  • tender

  • touching

  • heart-rending

  • evocative

  • soul-stirring

  • pathos (This is a tricky one. A cognate, pathetic, has a negative connotation, but the word pathos can be neutral or positive in both denotation and connotation. It is one of the three modes of persuasion, according to Aristotle. Its counterpart--and negative-connotation word--would be bathos.)

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  • heart-rending seems a lot more 'negative' than the original.
    – Oldcat
    Jun 26, 2014 at 23:48
  • @Oldcat: Not sure I agree with you, but then that could be because I've never heard it used in a negative fashion in my limited sphere of experience! To me, the pictures of poor, starving, swollen-bellied children in a TV commercial for a charitable organization are truly heart-rending. Same goes for the Human Society's commercial with pictures of abandoned and abused dogs, with sad music playing in the background. I have to turn the channel. To me: heart rending. Don Jun 27, 2014 at 0:25
  • The imagery is that of tearing your heart in half like a piece of cloth - as in rending your garments in anguish. Whereas the imagery from poignant is that of a prick like a thorn, or a sting. The former seems more severe. If you want to avoid the sting, surely you'd want to avoid being torn in half.
    – Oldcat
    Jun 27, 2014 at 0:33
  • @Oldcat: Unless I have a split personality! Point taken, by the way. Don Jun 27, 2014 at 0:40

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