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

Word Origin and History for pugilistically



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