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[tes-tee] /ˈtɛs ti/
adjective, testier, testiest.
irritably impatient; touchy.
Origin of testy
late Middle English
1325-75; late Middle English testi, alteration of Middle French testu headstrong; replacing Middle English testif < Middle French. See test2, -ive
Related forms
testily, adverb
testiness, noun
tetchy, edgy, snappish, cross, irascible. See irritable.
composed. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for testy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "Ay, but there is listening and listening, mistress," was the testy response.

    Sea-Dogs All! Tom Bevan
  • He didn't know it, but she was trying to say she was sorry she had been impatient and testy.

    Sunny Boy in the Big City Ramy Allison White
  • "That's all right, that's all right," was the testy rejoinder.

    Fair Harbor Joseph Crosby Lincoln
  • She was testy too; but this was owing to the neglect she experienced at the hands of her tribe.

    Ungava R.M. Ballantyne
  • There were footsteps on the stairs: then a stumble and a testy word.

    Tales of Mean Streets Arthur Morrison
British Dictionary definitions for testy


adjective -tier, -tiest
irritable or touchy
Derived Forms
testily, adverb
testiness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Anglo-Norman testif headstrong, from Old French teste head, from Late Latin testa skull, from Latin: shell
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 testy

c.1500, "impetuous, rash," from Middle English testif "headstrong" (late 14c.), from Anglo-French testif, Old French testu "stubborn," literally "heady," from teste "head," from Late Latin testa "skull," in classical Latin "pot, shell" (see tester (n.2)). Meaning "easily irritated" is first recorded 1520s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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