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[pee-vish] /ˈpi vɪʃ/
cross, querulous, or fretful, as from vexation or discontent:
a peevish youngster.
showing annoyance, irritation, or bad mood:
a peevish reply; a peevish frown.
perverse or obstinate.
Origin of peevish
1350-1400; Middle English pevysh < ?
Related forms
peevishly, adverb
peevishness, noun
unpeevish, adjective
unpeevishly, adverb
unpeevishness, noun
1. petulant, irritable, snappish. See cross. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for peevish
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The guests became hungry, peevish, and gloomy, while an excellent dinner continued spoiling before them.

  • Are you mistress of the petulant, the peevish, and the sullen tone?

  • Now, Duke can be ever so snappish and peevish; I'm not half so much afraid for him.

    Magnum Bonum Charlotte M. Yonge
  • There's nothing for you to be peevish about, the water's like glass.

    The Harbor Ernest Poole
  • I repeated in some surprise, thinking to myself that so peevish a creature must certainly be best in his sleep.

    The Rambles of a Rat A. L. O. E.
  • He may fail in the attempt, and be a peevish thing at play, but the attempt will show him at his best.

    Mountain Meditations L. Lind-af-Hageby
  • Bein' very beautiful, we can afford to be haughty an' peevish.

    Mr. Dooley Says Finley Dunne
  • For she was a straight, brave woman, as well as a peevish one.

British Dictionary definitions for peevish


fretful or irritable: a peevish child
(obsolete) perverse
Derived Forms
peevishly, adverb
peevishness, noun
Word Origin
C14: of unknown origin
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 peevish

late 14c., peyvesshe "perverse, capricious, silly," of uncertain origin, possibly modeled on Latin perversus "reversed, perverse," past participle of pervertere "to turn about" (see pervert (v.)). Meaning "cross, fretful" first recorded 1520s. Related: Peevishly; peevishness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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