pug·​na·​cious | \ ˌpəg-ˈnā-shəs How to pronounce pugnacious (audio) \

Definition of pugnacious

: having a quarrelsome or combative nature : truculent

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Other Words from pugnacious

pugnaciously adverb
pugnaciousness noun
pugnacity \ ˌpəg-​ˈna-​sə-​tē How to pronounce pugnacity (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for pugnacious

belligerent, bellicose, pugnacious, quarrelsome, contentious mean having an aggressive or fighting attitude. belligerent often implies being actually at war or engaged in hostilities. belligerent nations bellicose suggests a disposition to fight. a drunk in a bellicose mood pugnacious suggests a disposition that takes pleasure in personal combat. a pugnacious gangster quarrelsome stresses an ill-natured readiness to fight without good cause. the heat made us all quarrelsome contentious implies perverse and irritating fondness for arguing and quarreling. wearied by his contentious disposition

Examples of pugnacious in a Sentence

That's a bass for you: pugnacious, adaptable and ever ready to demonstrate that the first order of business on any given day, drought or no drought, is eating anything that it can fit its big, powerful mouth around. — Pete Bodo, New York Times, 22 Oct. 1995 Herz sees himself as a pugnacious sardine going up against rule-flouting sharks. — Richard Wolkomir, Smithsonian, August 1992 He was a short man with heavy shoulders, a slight potbelly, puffy blue eyes, and a pugnacious expression. — Alice Munro, New Yorker, 2 Jan. 1989 Podhoretz takes a more pugnacious and protesting stance, insisting on the word "seriousness" at all times and punctuating it with the word "moral". — Christopher Hitchens, Times Literary Supplement, 30 May 1986 There's one pugnacious member on the committee who won't agree to anything. a movie reviewer who is spirited, even pugnacious, when defending her opinions
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Recent Examples on the Web Sacred Heart is represented by Neil Hallinan, from the famous family of pugnacious attorneys. Sam Whiting, SFChronicle.com, "Living among the 49ers faithful on one short block of the Mission," 30 Jan. 2020 Ailes hired and mentored pugnacious right-wing commentators like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, whose opinion-forward shows grew to dominate the news network. Eliana Dockterman, Time, "The True Story Behind Bombshell and the Fox News Sexual Harassment Scandal," 16 Dec. 2019 Homelessness has become yet another source of conflict in the pugnacious relationship between the governor and President Trump. Alexei Koseff, SFChronicle.com, "Trump administration holding up California homeless efforts, Newsom charges," 4 Dec. 2019 Ex-Bruins back liner Mike Milbury, ever pugnacious as part of NBC’s hockey broadcast team, will be the keynote speaker at the Ace Bailey Foundation’s annual Face Off for Ace bash March 11 at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge. BostonGlobe.com, "And right there in lockstep with it, by Cassidy’s eye, is hockey IQ.," 10 Nov. 2019 In Kentucky, Trump and his allies went all in to rescue embattled Gov. Matt Bevin, who wrapped himself in the president’s image in his pugnacious campaign. Steve Peoples, Twin Cities, "Analysis: Trump’s GOP has no answer for suburban slide," 6 Nov. 2019 Over the same period, Purdue was represented by Dezenhall Resources, a PR firm known for its pugnacious defense of beleaguered corporations. David Armstrong, ProPublica, "Inside Purdue Pharma’s Media Playbook: How It Planted the Opioid “Anti-Story”," 19 Nov. 2019 In Kentucky, Trump and his allies went all in to rescue embattled Gov. Matt Bevin, who literally wrapped himself in the president’s image in his pugnacious campaign. Steve People, The Denver Post, "Analysis: Trump’s GOP has no answer for suburban slide," 6 Nov. 2019 Provocative and at times pugnacious, Peterson proved to be the man for the moment. Kyle Smith, National Review, "An Introduction to Jordan Peterson," 30 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pugnacious.' 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 pugnacious

1642, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pugnacious

Latin pugnac-, pugnax, from pugnare to fight — more at pungent

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The first known use of pugnacious was in 1642

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Last Updated

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pugnacious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pugnacious. Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for pugnacious


How to pronounce pugnacious (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pugnacious

formal : showing a readiness or desire to fight or argue

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Nglish: Translation of pugnacious for Spanish Speakers

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