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[tes-tee] /ˈtɛs ti/
adjective, testier, testiest.
irritably impatient; touchy.
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. 2014.
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Examples for testy
  • Unstable weather patterns can play havoc with food production, and hungry people tend to get pretty testy.
  • Until that moment he had been intensely focused on the crisis and had been steady, although testy and combative.
  • The choice was meant to soothe her party's bigwigs, with whom she has a sometimes testy relationship.
  • We have one customer with whom our relationship, though not vitriolic, is testy or chippy.
  • His insistence on dredging up the past made her testy.
  • The surveys indicate that the judge's demeanor is sometimes impatient, testy, rude and arrogant.
  • After the employer hung up on claimant, a testy exchange of text messages ensued.
  • And so that was a little bit testy for me to try to wade through that particular case.
British Dictionary definitions for testy


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 testy
1510, "impetuous, rash," from M.E. testif "headstrong" (late 14c.), from Anglo-Fr. testif, from O.Fr. testu "stubborn," lit. "heady," from teste "head," from L.L. testa "skull," in L. "pot, shell" (see tester (2)). Meaning "easily irritated" is first recorded 1526.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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