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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 pugnacity
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Her expression lost its pugnacity and became sincerely concerned.

    'Twixt Land & Sea Joseph Conrad
  • We must defend ourselves, so the instinct of pugnacity is born.

    The Mind and Its Education

    George Herbert Betts
  • The 'Mercury' missed his power of organisation, his splendid gift of pugnacity.

    Grey Town Gerald Baldwin
  • The struggling crowd had lashed his pugnacity and ensanguined his temper.

    The Californians

    Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton
  • Celtic, he thought, from her pugnacity, and her taste in fillets and djibbahs.

  • There was nothing like the pugnacity of the Kiddy in these years of Prothero's disaster.

    The Creators

    May Sinclair
  • This, in a youth not seventeen, urged well for the pugnacity of the man.

  • Fear and pugnacity are too apparent in fish to require special proof.

    Animal Intelligence George J. Romanes
  • Well, tenacity or pugnacity conquered, and I worked on until dusk.

British Dictionary definitions for pugnacity


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 pugnacity

c.1600, from Latin pugnacitas "fondness for fighting," from pugnax (genitive pugnacis) "combative" (see pugnacious).



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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