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 pugnacious (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 Sunday’s Game 4 was a physical matchup, led by pugnacious Mercury veteran Diana Taurasi. Rachel Bachman, WSJ, 17 Oct. 2021 Gibbs was joined by the great DJ-producer the Alchemist for his pugnacious, heaving set of hard-nosed hip-hop. Elias Leight, Rolling Stone, 27 Sep. 2021 Cruz turns pugnacious and awkward; Chase-Owens loses his mystery and merely drifts, confused, between the two people who disagree about how to help and love him. Helen Shaw, Vulture, 21 Sep. 2021 That pugnacious Beethoven certainly wasn’t the protagonist of Muti’s reading on Thursday night. Hannah Edgar, chicagotribune.com, 24 Sep. 2021 The pugnacious LePage became known both inside Maine and across the country for stirring controversy thanks to his off-the-cuff remarks. Paul Steinhauser, Fox News, 22 Sep. 2021 But look out for that slope — which might lead to the Fightin’ Irish and their little, pugnacious guy. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 26 Aug. 2021 Poirier highlighted weaknesses and exploited opportunities in the brash, pugnacious approach that made McGregor the biggest name in combat sports. Greg Beacham, Star Tribune, 9 July 2021 The pugnacious chaos of the Trump White House was over. BostonGlobe.com, 24 Aug. 2021

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

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The first known use of pugnacious was in 1642

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Dictionary Entries Near pugnacious

pug moth


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Last Updated

20 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pugnacious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pugnacious. Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of pugnacious

: showing a readiness or desire to fight or argue

More from Merriam-Webster on pugnacious

Nglish: Translation of pugnacious for Spanish Speakers


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