a person who fights with the fists; a boxer, usually a professional.

Origin of pugilist

1780–90; < Latin pugil (see pugilism) + -ist
Related formspu·gi·lis·tic, adjectivepu·gi·lis·ti·cal·ly, adverbun·pu·gil·is·tic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for pugilist

prizefighter, contender, fighter, boxer, bruiser

Examples from the Web for pugilist

Historical Examples of pugilist

  • She had put on a blue bath-robe, and looked like a pugilist about to enter the ring.

    The Girl on the Boat

    Pelham Grenville Wodehouse

  • "I'm all ready," said Richard, throwing himself into the attitude of the pugilist.

    In School and Out

    Oliver Optic

  • He set himself square like a pugilist, which was his notion of resistance.

    Phoebe, Junior

    Mrs [Margaret] Oliphant

  • Perhaps a pugilist would have said that the younger "heeled" the other.

    Footprints in the Forest

    Edward Sylvester Ellis

  • The muscularity, purchased by excessive nutriment, of the Bœotian pugilist.

Word Origin and History for pugilist

1789, from Latin pugil "boxer, fist-fighter," related to pugnus "a fist" (see pugnacious) + -ist. Related: Pugilistic (1789); pugilistically. Pugil occasionally turns up in English as "boxer, fist-fighter" (from 1640s), but it has not caught on. Pugil stick (1962) was introduced by U.S. military as a substitute for rifles in bayonet drills.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper