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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pugnacity
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He stood in the doorway, his whole frame exhibiting the pugnacity and settled determination of a man who is bound to be obeyed.

    Jennie Gerhardt Theodore Dreiser
  • The 'Mercury' missed his power of organisation, his splendid gift of pugnacity.

    Grey Town Gerald Baldwin
  • It was at that time that Belfast's devotion—and also his pugnacity—secured universal respect.

  • We must defend ourselves, so the instinct of pugnacity is born.

    The Mind and Its Education George Herbert Betts
  • The same combination of patriotism443 and pugnacity is seen in the Uruguayans.

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

    Animal Intelligence George J. Romanes
  • If there was any faulty expression, it was in the mouth, which was not without something of a character of pugnacity.

  • Yet his pugnacity was really foreign to the nature of the man.

    Hugh Miller William Keith Leask
  • For activity and pugnacity of humming-birds, see Tropical Nature, pp. 130, 213.

    Darwinism (1889) Alfred Russel Wallace
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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