feistier; feistiest
chiefly Southern US and Midland US
: full of nervous energy : fidgety
: exuberantly frisky
: having or showing a lively aggressiveness : spunky
the movie's feisty heroine
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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web With a nod to Monty Python and the Holy Grail’s Black Knight, who keeps fighting as his limbs are cut off one by one, Boy Kills World has one feisty combatant ripping his own arm off to keep battling. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 Sep. 2023 Colonial America was awash in apple orchards, as the soil was fertile and the water full of strange, feisty bacteria that could cause all sorts of fun side effects, like dysentery and death. Allison Robicelli, Washington Post, 6 Sep. 2023 Locked in a defensive battle with a feisty Crofton team, the Dundalk Owls dug in. Aidan Thomas, Baltimore Sun, 2 Sep. 2023 Read the full Pisces Daily Horoscope Aries (March 21 - April 19) Feeling feisty? USA TODAY, 27 Aug. 2023 Second-year guard Tyler Smith is getting a reputation as a feisty player. Calvin Watkins, Dallas News, 17 Aug. 2023 Already a feisty six inches, Crocky-J scurried across the floor, sending the family into a frenzy. Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times, 29 Aug. 2023 Cat owners who want to create a happy, thriving environment for their feisty feline should consider investing in interactive toys, which can satisfy cats’ natural instincts to hunt, forage, and chase. Toni Sutton, Peoplemag, 27 Aug. 2023 The fall of yet another outlet – one that had become known for its staffers’ feisty resilience and courage – has fueled concerns that Indian democracy is in retreat. Lindsey McGinnis, The Christian Science Monitor, 22 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'feisty.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


feist + -y entry 1

First Known Use

1896, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of feisty was in 1896


Dictionary Entries Near feisty

Cite this Entry

“Feisty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feisty. Accessed 28 Sep. 2023.

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