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[tuhch-ee] /ˈtʌtʃ i/
adjective, touchier, touchiest.
apt to take offense on slight provocation; irritable:
He is very touchy when he's sick.
requiring caution, tactfulness, or expert handling; precarious; risky:
a touchy subject; a touchy situation.
sensitive to touch.
easily ignited, as tinder.
Origin of touchy
1595-1605; variant of techy2 (a variant of tetchy), by association with touch
Related forms
touchily, adverb
touchiness, noun
1. testy, irascible, edgy, snappish, cranky. See irritable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for touchy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • These Cape Codders are self-respecting and touchy, you know.

    Mary-'Gusta Joseph C. Lincoln
  • Besides, he's a touchy person, and my husband is most tenacious regarding him.

    Luttrell Of Arran Charles James Lever
  • I have taken pains with the dialogue, and made it as sharp and touchy as I could.

  • Tim often said he would be a soldier when he came to be a man, and was touchy on the point.

    Kilgorman Talbot Baines Reed
  • For goodness' sake, don't take to gettin' touchy like some people are!

    Patchwork Anna Balmer Myers
British Dictionary definitions for touchy


adjective touchier, touchiest
easily upset or irritated; oversensitive
extremely risky
easily ignited
Derived Forms
touchily, adverb
touchiness, noun
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 touchy

"too sensitive," c.1600, perhaps an alteration of tetchy (q.v.) influenced by touch (v.). Related: Touchiness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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