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adjective, touch·i·er, touch·i·est.
  1. apt to take offense on slight provocation; irritable: He is very touchy when he's sick.
  2. requiring caution, tactfulness, or expert handling; precarious; risky: a touchy subject; a touchy situation.
  3. sensitive to touch.
  4. easily ignited, as tinder.

Origin of touchy

1595–1605; variant of techy2 (a variant of tetchy), by association with touch
Related formstouch·i·ly, adverbtouch·i·ness, noun

Synonyms for touchy

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

Examples from the Web for touchy

Contemporary Examples of touchy

Historical Examples of touchy

  • These Cape Codders are self-respecting and touchy, you know.


    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.


    Talbot Baines Reed

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


    Anna Balmer Myers

British Dictionary definitions for touchy


adjective touchier or touchiest
  1. easily upset or irritated; oversensitive
  2. extremely risky
  3. easily ignited
Derived Formstouchily, adverbtouchiness, 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

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