Denotation vs. Connotation


[tes-tee] /ˈtɛs ti/
adjective, testier, testiest.
irritably impatient; touchy.
Origin of testy
late Middle English
1325-75; late Middle English testi, alteration of Middle French testu headstrong; replacing Middle English testif < Middle French. See test2, -ive
Related forms
testily, adverb
testiness, noun
tetchy, edgy, snappish, cross, irascible. See irritable.
composed. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for testily
Historical Examples
  • "When one has supped well, it is always a beautiful night," he said testily.

    The King of Schnorrers Israel Zangwill
  • "You don't seem to think much of a cigar," said O'Shea, testily.

    One Of Them Charles James Lever
  • “You all speak as if the poorhouse was a gaol,” the doctor said testily.

    The Little Minister J. M. Barrie
  • "Then I don't understand you,—that's clear," exclaimed O'Reilly, testily.

  • Bless me, Yussuf,” cried Mr Burne testily; “anyone would think that this was your excursion and not ours.

    Yussuf the Guide George Manville Fenn
  • "No, the 103d; the 105th was at Barbadoes," broke in the Major, testily.

    Barrington Charles James Lever
  • "I am all right," he told them testily, and looking uneasily at Grizel.

    Tommy and Grizel J.M. Barrie
  • “You might as well ask if I was lost,” Mr. Powell rejoined so testily as to surprise me.

    Chance Joseph Conrad
  • "When you marry that wuthless Tom McChesney," said her grandfather, testily.

    The Crossing Winston Churchill
  • "It's remarkable that you should be deaf as well as dumb," retorted the other, testily.

    Little Miss Grouch Samuel Hopkins Adams
British Dictionary definitions for testily


adjective -tier, -tiest
irritable or touchy
Derived Forms
testily, adverb
testiness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Anglo-Norman testif headstrong, from Old French teste head, from Late Latin testa skull, from Latin: shell
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 testily



c.1500, "impetuous, rash," from Middle English testif "headstrong" (late 14c.), from Anglo-French testif, Old French testu "stubborn," literally "heady," from teste "head," from Late Latin testa "skull," in classical Latin "pot, shell" (see tester (n.2)). Meaning "easily irritated" is first recorded 1520s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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