\ˈfī-stē \
feistier; feistiest

Definition of feisty 

1 chiefly Southern US and Midland US

a : full of nervous energy : fidgety

b : touchy, quarrelsome

c : exuberantly frisky

2 : having or showing a lively aggressiveness : spunky the movie's feisty heroine

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Other Words from feisty

feistiness noun

Did You Know?

In certain parts of the United States, most notably the South, the noun feist (pronounced to rhyme with heist) refers to a small dog used in hunting small game animals (such as squirrels). Also spelled fice or fyce, it comes from an obsolete term, "fisting hound," that derived from another obsolete term, fist, a verb that once meant "to break wind." The term feisty has come a long way from its flatulent origin, but its small-dog association still seems relevant: the term conveys the spunk and determination that one may associate with a dog that manages to make its presence known (either through its bark or its bite) despite its small size.

Examples of feisty in a Sentence

I was feisty, because people misinterpret what country music is, just like they think Southerners are a bunch of hicks. — Wynonna Judd, quoted in Rolling Stone, 8-22 July 1993 Humorist Cynthia Heimel never plays it safe, bless her feisty little heart. She's outrageous and hilarious, daring to say exactly what she and millions of other women really think … — Donna Seaman, Booklist, 15 May 1993 … Milwaukee was the last major industrial city to elect a Socialist mayor—Frank P. Zeidler, a feisty octogenarian who teaches today at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee … — Charles P. Pierce, Village Voice, 10 Mar. 1992 She never tired of hearing anecdotes from her childhood, and she particularly liked to hear how feisty she had been … — Lorene Cary, Black Ice, 1991 The novel features a feisty heroine. Even her opponents admire her feisty spirit.
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Recent Examples on the Web

She, on the other hand, was feisty and alert when officials found her, Stoke said. Elise Takahama, BostonGlobe.com, "Two N.H. gray seals released back into ocean after recovering from March nor’easters," 14 May 2018 But Chubs gets a little feisty around food, Mills said. Justin Madden, cleveland.com, "'Chubs' the potbelly pig found roaming the streets of Euclid," 10 Jan. 2018 During the first half of the 20th century, feisty Parliaments had little compunction about flexing their muscles. Reuel Marc Gerecht And, WSJ, "Don’t Fear Regime Change in Iran," 11 June 2018 Andy Kim, in New Jersey's 3rd, is now set for what's expected to be a feisty showdown with GOP Rep. Tom MacArthur. Dan Merica, CNN, "Crisis averted: How the Democrats avoided disaster in California," 6 June 2018 Today the feisty furball speeds across the yard to meet curious admirers and enjoys a good back scratch once he's finished showing off his lightning-fast agility. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "Meet Deuce from Kentucky — he might just be the fastest dog on two legs," 11 July 2018 The reptile's feisty personality makes her a good representative for her species, which has declined due to habitat loss, disease, poaching, and more. Bethany Augliere, National Geographic, "Head-Banging Gopher Tortoise Shows Why The Species Matters," 10 Apr. 2018 Many flow as feisty as an overcaffeinated terrier during rainy times and then lie around in sandy pajamas the rest of the year. Roger Naylor, azcentral, "10 best hikes in Arizona show off state's diverse scenery," 13 July 2018 But the dramatic focus is less on the realization of her carefully cultivated potential than on the way adults project their own disappointments and desires onto this feisty young baseliner. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "Review: Amanda Peet's 'Our Very Own Carlin McCullough': A tennis prodigy learns life's score," 29 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'feisty.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of feisty

1896, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for feisty

see feist

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Dictionary Entries near feisty





fei ts'ui



Statistics for feisty

Last Updated

4 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for feisty

The first known use of feisty was in 1896

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English Language Learners Definition of feisty

: not afraid to fight or argue : very lively and aggressive

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Comments on feisty

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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