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 Briefly achieved viral celebrity due to his pugnacious debate performances and eccentric campaign ads. CBS News, "All the Democratic candidates who ran for president in 2020," 15 May 2020 So far, however, the pugnacious voices are resounding, threatening China’s ties with other nations. Shashank Bengali, Los Angeles Times, "‘Put on a mask and shut up’: China’s undiplomatic diplomats hit back at critics," 4 May 2020 Now, with a new national security advisor (his fourth in less than three years), an untested Defense secretary and a secretary of State acting as his most pugnacious defender, the president faces few restraints. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Trump has foreign policy principles: Syria shows how they work. Don’t say you weren’t warned," 16 Oct. 2019 Kaufmann, in his translations, brought to bear a strong, pugnacious style. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "Nietzsche’s Eternal Return," 7 Oct. 2019 And characters were regularly subtracted or added—notably Scrappy-Doo, Scooby’s pint-size and pugnacious nephew. Christopher Orr, The Atlantic, "The Secret of Scooby-Doo’s Enduring Appeal," 19 Apr. 2020 The pugnacious New York lawyer, who has since been disbarred, pleaded guilty to coordinating payoffs to buy the silence of adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, "Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to get early prison release amid coronavirus fears," 17 Apr. 2020 Despite being known for his pugnacious style, particularly with Trump officials, Chris can hardly be expected to badger Andrew about New York’s response to the coronavirus. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Keeping Up With the Cuomos," 4 Apr. 2020 If shellcrackers are your target, get a little wetter: These pugnacious fish typically spawn in deeper water averaging 7 to 10 feet deep. T. Edward Nickens, Field & Stream, "How to Fish for Trophy Panfish on a Spawning Bed," 19 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for pugnacious

Time Traveler

The first known use of pugnacious was in 1642

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Last Updated

24 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pugnacious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pugnacious. Accessed 27 May. 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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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pugnacious

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pugnacious

Spanish Central: Translation of pugnacious

Nglish: Translation of pugnacious for Spanish Speakers

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