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[pee-vish] /ˈpi vɪʃ/
cross, querulous, or fretful, as from vexation or discontent:
a peevish youngster.
showing annoyance, irritation, or bad mood:
a peevish reply; a peevish frown.
perverse or obstinate.
Origin of peevish
1350-1400; Middle English pevysh < ?
Related forms
peevishly, adverb
peevishness, noun
unpeevish, adjective
unpeevishly, adverb
unpeevishness, noun
1. petulant, irritable, snappish. See cross. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for peevish
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She had no affection for this selfish invalid, this weak, peevish bully.

  • Are you mistress of the petulant, the peevish, and the sullen tone?

  • There's nothing for you to be peevish about, the water's like glass.

    The Harbor Ernest Poole
  • He may fail in the attempt, and be a peevish thing at play, but the attempt will show him at his best.

    Mountain Meditations L. Lind-af-Hageby
  • Perhaps it was the fault of the portrait, but he had a peevish frown.

  • For she was a straight, brave woman, as well as a peevish one.

  • He is peevish and cross-grained, poor man, since he came here.

    Scaramouche Rafael Sabatini
  • Sometimes she was fretful and peevish, and sometimes hopelessly dejected and sad.

    Queen Elizabeth Jacob Abbott
British Dictionary definitions for peevish


fretful or irritable: a peevish child
(obsolete) perverse
Derived Forms
peevishly, adverb
peevishness, noun
Word Origin
C14: of unknown origin
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
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Word Origin and History for peevish

late 14c., peyvesshe "perverse, capricious, silly," of uncertain origin, possibly modeled on Latin perversus "reversed, perverse," past participle of pervertere "to turn about" (see pervert (v.)). Meaning "cross, fretful" first recorded 1520s. Related: Peevishly; peevishness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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