belligerent, bellicose, pugnacious, quarrelsome, contentious mean having an aggressive or fighting attitude. belligerent often implies being actually at war or engaged in hostilities.
belligerent nationsbellicose 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 quarrelsomecontentious 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. 1995Herz sees himself as a pugnacious sardine going up against rule-flouting sharks.— Richard Wolkomir, Smithsonian, August 1992He was a short man with heavy shoulders, a slight potbelly, puffy blue eyes, and a pugnacious expression.— Alice Munro, New Yorker, 2 Jan. 1989Podhoretz 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
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.