fighting word


Definition of fighting word

: a word likely to provoke a fight

Examples of fighting word in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web To white workers like Mr. Hoskins anxious over their loss of economic and social status, and eager to hear fighting words on their behalf, Mr. Trump — an unusual Republican with a populist message — was an ally. New York Times, "How the G.O.P. Became the Party of the Left Behind," 27 Jan. 2020 But that is a fighting word — a fighting spelling — for Ukrainians. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "A Name of One’s Own: Ukraine Journal, Part I," 10 Dec. 2019 In fact, these were fighting words: barely disguised and directed at certain Democratic rivals. Mark Leibovich, New York Times, "2020 Democratic Candidates Wage Escalating Fight (on the Merits of Fighting)," 30 Nov. 2019 Perception becomes reality, so, to McMahon, those were fighting words. Dan Gartland,, "The Week in Wrestling: The Latest on Neville’s Situation and the Bullet Club’s Feud With WWE," 18 Oct. 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of fighting word

1917, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about fighting word

Time Traveler for fighting word

Time Traveler

The first known use of fighting word was in 1917

See more words from the same year

Statistics for fighting word

Cite this Entry

“Fighting word.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Comments on fighting word

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


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!