Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective \ˈfirs\

Simple Definition of fierce

  • : very violent

  • : eager to fight or kill

  • : having or showing a lot of strong emotion : very strong or intense

Full Definition of fierce


  1. 1 a :  violently hostile or aggressive in temperament b :  given to fighting or killing :  pugnacious

  2. 2 a :  marked by unrestrained zeal or vehemence <a fierce argument> b :  extremely vexatious, disappointing, or intense <fierce pain>

  3. 3 :  furiously active or determined <make a fierce effort>

  4. 4 :  wild or menacing in appearance

fierce·ness noun

Examples of fierce

  1. He was killed in a fierce battle.

  2. The proposal has faced fierce opposition.

  3. The two teams have had a fierce rivalry for many years.

  4. He's admired for his fierce independence.

  5. You could see the fierce determination in her eyes.

Origin of fierce

Middle English fiers, from Anglo-French fer, fers, fiers, from Latin ferus wild, savage; akin to Greek thēr wild animal

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of fierce

fierce, ferocious, barbarous, savage, cruel mean showing fury or malignity in looks or actions. fierce applies to humans and animals that inspire terror because of their wild and menacing aspect or fury in attack <fierce warriors>. ferocious implies extreme fierceness and unrestrained violence and brutality <a ferocious dog>. barbarous implies a ferocity or mercilessness regarded as unworthy of civilized people <barbarous treatment of prisoners>. savage implies the absence of inhibitions restraining civilized people filled with rage, lust, or other violent passion <a savage criminal>. cruel implies indifference to suffering and even positive pleasure in inflicting it <the cruel jokes of schoolboys>.

Rhymes with fierce

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up fierce? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 8, 2016

to clear from accusation or blame

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

pince-nez duvet spindrift kittly-benders
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.