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[puhg-ney-shuh s] /pʌgˈneɪ ʃəs/
inclined to quarrel or fight readily; quarrelsome; belligerent; combative.
Origin of pugnacious
1635-45; pugnaci(ty) (< Latin pugnācitās combativeness, equivalent to pugnāci-, stem of pugnāx combative (akin to pugil; see pugilism) + -tās -ty2) + -ous
Related forms
pugnaciously, adverb
[puhg-nas-i-tee] /pʌgˈnæs ɪ ti/ (Show IPA),
pugnaciousness, noun
unpugnacious, adjective
unpugnaciously, adverb
unpugnaciousness, noun
argumentative, contentious, bellicose.
agreeable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for pugnaciously
Historical Examples
  • "We'll go down and talk to this Don Loris," he said pugnaciously.

    The Pirates of Ersatz Murray Leinster
  • "This is not at all pleasant," said Captain Sydenham pugnaciously.

    The Art of Disappearing John Talbot Smith
  • "Call me 'sir' when you address me," ordered Kennell pugnaciously.

  • He did not say, I am sorry you were not at church, as Ben Trawl pugnaciously expected.

    A Singular Life Elizabeth Stuart Phelps
  • Then, too, she was pugnaciously loyal to the glories of the best parlor.

    The Portion of Labor Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
  • But now again our theories are erroneous, and the siege progresses to-day merrily and as pugnaciously as ever.

    The Siege of Mafeking (1900) J. Angus Hamilton.
  • Questions concerning the legality of certain assemblies were pugnaciously raised and as pugnaciously answered.

    The Story of the Cambrian C. P. Gasquoine
  • "I'd just as soon not have a beau at all as have some of these boys around here," declared Dolly, pugnaciously.

  • She has just made a good one: 'P is a pie-man, portly and proud, pugnaciously prattling'—What's the rest of it, godmother?

    The Little Colonel's House Party

    Annie Fellows Johnston
  • "Got a telegram for Whittier, Wheatcroft & Co.," the messenger explained, pugnaciously thrusting himself forward.

    Tales of Fantasy and Fact Brander Matthews
British Dictionary definitions for pugnaciously


readily disposed to fight; belligerent
Derived Forms
pugnaciously, adverb
pugnacity (pʌɡˈnæsɪtɪ), pugnaciousness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin pugnāx
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 pugnaciously



1640s, a back-formation from pugnacity or else from Latin pugnacis, genitive of pugnax "combative, fond of fighting," from pugnare "to fight," especially with the fists, "contend against," from pugnus "a fist," from PIE *pung-, nasalized form of root *peuk-, *peug- "to stick, stab, to prick" (cf. Greek pyx "with clenched fist," pygme "fist, boxing," pyktes "boxer;" Latin pungere "to pierce, prick").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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