Repugnant vs pungent

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Repugnant and pungent are two words that are close in pronunciation and spelling, and are sometimes confused. We will examine the definitions of repugnant and pungent, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Repugnant describes something disgusting, something repulsive or detestable.  The word repugnant may also describe something antagonistic or incompatible with something else. Repugnant is an adjective, related words are repugnance, repugnantly. The word repugnant is derived from the Latin word repugnantem, meaning oppose or incompatible.

Pungent describes something with a sharp, strong smell, usually an unpleasant one. Pungent is also used figuratively to mean a sharp, piercing opinion or criticism. Related words are pungency, pungently. The word pungent is derived from the Latin word pungentem  which means to stick or to afflict.


China is undertaking a repugnant campaign to destroy the identity of a minority people, the Uighur Muslims of Xinjiang province in the far northwest. (The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette)

Iger’s statement came just a few minutes after ABC President Channing Dungey announced the rebooted sitcom was canceled in a statement calling Barr’s tweets “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.” (The Sentinel)

Obioma says in the lawsuit that she was informed that the business class passenger was not comfortable flying with her because she was “pungent” and informed that she could not return to the plane. (The Houston Chronicle)

The skunk was in a concealed area, which contained a lot of the spray, and Hartmann gave credit to one of his crew for holding down the pungent scent. (The Brookings Register)

Then the veggies went back in the pan, along with a pungent combo of oyster sauce, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. (Bon Appetit Magazine)