Even if you didn’t know the meaning of the word pungent, you might have an idea that it describes something strong, powerful, and possibly unpleasant.
Oxford English Dictionary: Having a sharply strong taste or smell.
Why is it that the word seems to match its definition so well (for me anyway, this can be subjective, and the word might have strong associations for you)? It’s what is known as an ideophone, a word which evokes a certain idea, generally strongly associated with the meaning of the word. With a word like pungent, it’s simply due to the sound of the word. The vowel sound /ʌ/ has a soft, lazy sound, and the consonant /ʤ/ sound of the g is soft and squishy, and the two of them together compound each other and create a sense of powerful smelliness.
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