\ ˈfī-stē How to pronounce feisty (audio) \
feistier; feistiest

Definition of feisty

1 chiefly Southern US and Midland US
a : full of nervous energy : fidgety
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 Young and feisty Gilly Hopkins devises a scheme to escape from her new foster home and reunite with her birth mother. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week ‘Pulp Fiction’ on BBC America and IFC," 9 Apr. 2021 Their feisty team full of overachievers is too busy trying to hang onto a playoff spot, though a 1-4 stretch hasn’t helped. Mike Mazzeo, Forbes, "Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving And Zion Williamson Finally Took The Floor Together — Just Not With New York Knicks," 8 Apr. 2021 South Korean rapper Omega Sapien delivers rhymes about being a bit too feisty over this cacophony, finishing off a punchy track that will be a full-on sweat-fest when clubs reopen. Katie Bain, Billboard, "First Spin: The Week's Best New Dance Tracks From Baauer, Boys Noize, Sidepiece & More," 19 Mar. 2021 The two songs are bizarro images of each other: both feisty and plucky, the same tune with very different messages. New York Times, "What Frustrated Workers Heard in That Dolly Parton Ad," 18 Feb. 2021 Such an image almost perfectly reflects what made McMurtry such a feisty talent, self-deprecating and pointed by turns. David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times, "Appreciation: How Larry McMurtry’s early work obliterated western clichés," 29 Mar. 2021 Outside is an outhouse and a nameless, feisty puppy that someone dropped off before dawn one day. The Salt Lake Tribune, "In a pandemic, Navajo community steps up for its vulnerable," 14 Mar. 2021 The best treasure of all was the feisty man himself. J.d. Crowe | Jdcrowe@al.com, al, "How I met Dr. Seuss," 14 Mar. 2021 Effertz, back in the lineup, blocked two shots as a feisty 6-foot guard. Matt Goul, cleveland, "St. Ignatius holds off Lorain, 56-52, for first OHSAA Division I district title since 2016," 6 Mar. 2021

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

feist + -y entry 1

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Last Updated

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Feisty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feisty. Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of feisty

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

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