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[fahy-stee] /ˈfaɪ sti/
adjective, feistier, feistiest.
full of animation, energy, or courage; spirited; spunky; plucky:
The champion is faced with a feisty challenger.
ill-tempered; pugnacious.
troublesome; difficult:
feisty legal problems.
Origin of feisty
1895-1900, Americanism; feist + -y1
Related forms
feistily, adverb
feistiness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for feistiness


adjective (informal) feistier, feistiest
lively, resilient, and self-reliant
(US & Canadian) frisky
(US & Canadian) irritable
Word Origin
C19: from dialect feist, fist small dog; related to Old English fīsting breaking wind
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for feistiness



1896, "aggressive, exuberant, touchy," American English, with -y (2) + feist "small dog," earlier fice, fist (American English, 1805); short for fysting curre "stinking cur," attested from 1520s, from Middle English fysten, fisten "break wind" (mid-15c.); related to Old English fisting "stink," from Proto-Germanic *fistiz- "a fart," said to be from PIE *pezd- (see fart), but there are difficulties.

The 1811 slang dictionary defines fice as "a small windy escape backwards, more obvious to the nose than ears; frequently by old ladies charged on their lap-dogs." Cf. also Danish fise "to blow, to fart," and obsolete English aske-fise, "fire-tender," literally "ash-blower" (early 15c.), from an unrecorded Norse source, used in Middle English for a kind of bellows, but originally "a term of reproach among northern nations for an unwarlike fellow who stayed at home in the chimney corner" [OED].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for feistiness



Truculent; irascible: They said the president was a feisty little chap/ He was having trouble with a feisty old lady who didn't want to move

[1896+; fr feist, found by 1770, ''small, worthless cur, esp a lapdog'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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