cross, querulous, or fretful, as from vexation or discontent: a peevish youngster.
showing annoyance, irritation, or bad mood: a peevish reply; a peevish frown.
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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for peevishness

Historical Examples of peevishness

  • The cause of her peevishness was a swarm of intensely active flies.

    Anderson Crow, Detective

    George Barr McCutcheon

  • It made him quiet nevertheless; these fits of ill-humor and peevishness were certainly neither dignified nor manly.


    Mrs. Oliphant

  • Her stuper gave place to some degree of peevishness and restlessness.

    Ormond, Volume I (of 3)

    Charles Brockden Brown

  • "Don't dissect my words, child; you quite understand what I mean," said the mother, with a slight reversion to peevishness.

    The Eddy

    Clarence L. Cullen

  • The Princess became proverbial for peevishness, sarcasm, and scandal.

British Dictionary definitions for peevishness



fretful or irritablea peevish child
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