quar·​rel·​some ˈkwȯr(-ə)l-səm How to pronounce quarrelsome (audio)
: apt or disposed to quarrel in an often petty manner : contentious
quarrelsomely adverb
quarrelsomeness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for quarrelsome

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 quarrelsome in a Sentence

a quarrelsome student who was always being sent to the principal's office for starting fights in the halls you're so quarrelsome: you can never do anything without a fuss
Recent Examples on the Web The art was also a way of transmuting the intense emotions of South Korea’s civil war, postwar poverty and military dictatorship, as well as what was widely remembered as his own difficult, sometimes quarrelsome personality, into a kind of everyday serenity. Will Heinrich, New York Times, 23 Oct. 2023 Park’s sense was that it had been historically applied to unusually quarrelsome women. Robert Samuels, The New Yorker, 4 Aug. 2023 When Chris Viehbacher, a respected pharmaceutical executive, took over as chief executive officer in November, Wall Street saw him as a steadying force for a wayward company and a strong personality who would stand up to its quarrelsome board. Ed Silverman, STAT, 14 June 2023 But with no bill yet in hand — and Democratic support seemingly unattainable — some House Republicans have acknowledged in recent days that their quarrelsome majority is far from averting an emerging fiscal crisis. Leigh Ann Caldwell, Washington Post, 15 Apr. 2023 The tragedy of the Grossman family resonated deeply in Israel, which is itself a kind of family—an extremely quarrelsome one, its members arguing and complaining about one another, but pulling together in times of grief. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 11 Aug. 2021 The appeal for bipartisan unity was a message aimed as much at the American public watching on television as those attending the speech in person, an effort to position the president as a responsible leader beset by a quarrelsome opposition. Peter Baker, New York Times, 7 Feb. 2023 In the first paragraph, Hyman is telling readers not to be sidetracked by a quarrelsome debate: unproven claims of a connection between thimerosal and autism. Keith Kloor, Discover Magazine, 19 July 2014 Russian opposition figures abroad have historically been a quarrelsome bunch, and the current crop is no different. Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, 7 Dec. 2022 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1596, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of quarrelsome was in 1596

Dictionary Entries Near quarrelsome

Cite this Entry

“Quarrelsome.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quarrelsome. Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


quar·​rel·​some ˈkwȯr(-ə)l-səm How to pronounce quarrelsome (audio)
: usually ready to quarrel

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