See more synonyms for peevish on
  1. cross, querulous, or fretful, as from vexation or discontent: a peevish youngster.
  2. showing annoyance, irritation, or bad mood: a peevish reply; a peevish frown.
  3. perverse or obstinate.

Origin of peevish

1350–1400; Middle English pevysh < ?
Related formspee·vish·ly, adverbpee·vish·ness, nounun·pee·vish, adjectiveun·pee·vish·ly, adverbun·pee·vish·ness, noun

Synonyms for peevish

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for peevishness

petulance, spleen, bile

Examples from the Web for peevishness

Historical Examples of peevishness

  • His mind was palsied with his body; its utmost energy was peevishness.

  • He had lost his peevishness, and could hide his indifference to people and his interest in food.

    Howards End

    E. M. Forster

  • Under no circumstances is peevishness or passion justifiable.

    A Book for All Readers

    Ainsworth Rand Spofford

  • The lines of his mouth betrayed selfishness and peevishness.

    The Winning Clue

    James Hay, Jr.

  • His face was perhaps too much inflamed, and there was about him a look almost of peevishness.

    Sons and Lovers

    David Herbert Lawrence

British Dictionary definitions for peevishness


  1. fretful or irritablea peevish child
  2. obsolete perverse
Derived Formspeevishly, adverbpeevishness, noun

Word Origin for peevish

C14: of unknown origin
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

Word Origin and History for peevishness



late 14c., peyvesshe "perverse, capricious, silly," of uncertain origin, possibly modeled on Latin perversus "reversed, perverse," past participle of pervertere "to turn about" (see pervert (v.)). Meaning "cross, fretful" first recorded 1520s. Related: Peevishly; peevishness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper