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feisty

[fahy-stee]
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
adjective, feist·i·er, feist·i·est.
  1. full of animation, energy, or courage; spirited; spunky; plucky: The champion is faced with a feisty challenger.
  2. ill-tempered; pugnacious.
  3. troublesome; difficult: feisty legal problems.

Origin of feisty

An Americanism dating back to 1895–1900; feist + -y1
Related formsfeist·i·ly, adverbfeist·i·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for feisty

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • I get sort of feisty and want to dav-il her by makin' you look pretty.

    The Power and the Glory

    Grace MacGowan Cooke

  • On an impulse he stepped up to the small man who began a grin of recognition, a grin that transformed his feisty face.

    Mercenary

    Dallas McCord Reynolds


British Dictionary definitions for feisty

feisty

adjective feistier or feistiest informal
  1. lively, resilient, and self-reliant
  2. US and Canadian frisky
  3. US and Canadian irritable

Word Origin

C19: from dialect feist, fist small dog; related to Old English fīsting breaking wind
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for feisty

adj.

1896, "aggressive, exuberant, touchy," American English, with -y (2) + feist "small dog," earlier fice, fist (American English, 1805); short for fysting curre "stinking cur," attested from 1520s, from Middle English fysten, fisten "break wind" (mid-15c.); related to Old English fisting "stink," from Proto-Germanic *fistiz- "a fart," said to be from PIE *pezd- (see fart), but there are difficulties.

The 1811 slang dictionary defines fice as "a small windy escape backwards, more obvious to the nose than ears; frequently by old ladies charged on their lap-dogs." Cf. also Danish fise "to blow, to fart," and obsolete English aske-fise, "fire-tender," literally "ash-blower" (early 15c.), from an unrecorded Norse source, used in Middle English for a kind of bellows, but originally "a term of reproach among northern nations for an unwarlike fellow who stayed at home in the chimney corner" [OED].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper