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.

1895–1900, Americanism; feist + -y1

feistily, adverb
feistiness, noun
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
feisty (ˈfaɪstɪ)
adj , feistier, feistiest
1.  lively, resilient, and self-reliant
2.  (US), (Canadian) frisky
3.  (US), (Canadian) irritable
[C19: from dialect feist, fist small dog; related to Old English fīsting breaking wind]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1896, Amer.Eng. from feist "small dog," from fice, fist (Amer.Eng., 1805) "small dog;" short for fysting curre "stinking cur," attested from 1520s, from M.E. fysten, fisten "break wind" (mid-15c.); related to O.E. fisting "stink." 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 Dan. fise "to blow, to fart," and obsolete English askefise, lit. "fire-blower, ash-blower," from an unrecorded O.N. source, used in M.E. 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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Example sentences
From sweet little chicks they turned into loud and feisty roosters.
But the band needed singers, a robust vocal outfit to tame the music's feisty
His state's feisty public-sector unions enjoy extremely favorable laws
  governing their collective bargaining.
Aileen, usually chipper and feisty, was visibly anxious.
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