: irritably or peevishly sensitive : touchy
Did You Know?
One of the first cited uses of tetchy occurs in William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet (1596). Etymologists are not certain how the word came about, but some have suggested that it derives from tetch, an obsolete noun meaning "habit." The similarity both in meaning and pronunciation to touchy might lead you to conclude that tetchy is related to that word, but there is no conclusive evidence to suggest such a connection. The adjectives teched and tetched, meaning "mentally unbalanced," are variations of touched, and are probably also unrelated to tetchy.
"What's the use of being cross with this old man? … Seems to me you're getting awful tetchy! Don't you like your old friends any more?" — Booth Tarkington, Alice Adams, 1921
"A million years ago, when written communication between people was limited to emails, I had a policy of always engaging. It took effort to compose an email, and I found even the tetchy ones gratifying. As long as the sender wasn't too obviously insane, I would reply…." — Emma Brockes, The Guardian, 5 Apr. 2017
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