One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Words indicating a willingness to fight or challenge a person or thing.
- ‘Those were fighting words for councillor Stu Kennedy, who refused to compromise the bypass road.’
- ‘Such fighting talk has earned the father-of-two, who has set up home in Harrogate, the nickname of ‘The Bulldozer’ from certain sections of his workforce.’
- ‘He seemed to be about to back up those fighting words with something more substantial when he won the first race of the season.’
- ‘There was fighting talk.’
- ‘Those are fighting words in the staid business of reinsurance.’
- ‘Maybe Hood's just looking for attention, and once that attention is achieved, he suddenly loses his fighting talk.’
- ‘Besides, Paterson is in too hospitable a mood for fighting talk.’
- ‘You want to know what fighting words sound like.’
- ‘And it seems as if Dominique has already mastered the fighting talk.’
- ‘This, as they say, is fighting talk and the problem is now so grave as to demand such fighting talk from the outset of his new ministry.’
- ‘That amounts to fighting words in a business devoted to selling kids image over substance.’
- ‘Translation: This six-letter word is fighting talk.’
- ‘This is fighting talk by a man who has come to appreciate that he speaks from a position of power.’
- ‘Still to come, it's a war of words and the Democrats are studying those fighting words.’
- ‘Such thinking only provokes more fighting talk.’
- ‘But despite the fighting talk, he admitted the Lib Dems could have done better after failing to make a much hoped-for election breakthrough in terms of Parliamentary seats.’
- ‘I mentioned a need for more accommodation towards asylum seekers - fighting words in KKK country.’
- ‘These are fighting words for a man whose earlier work seems a long, quiet morning of congenial thought.’
- ‘But his fighting talk: ‘Any company that wants to have a good reputation in Scotland as long as I'm First Minister should be taking that into account,’ fell on deaf ears.’
- ‘‘We're in mourning - leave us alone,’ he begged, before finding his voice and a vocabulary of fighting words.’
- ‘Mr McDonagh has heard such fighting talk before, but this time thinks something will happen.’
2US Insulting or provocative words, especially of an ethnic, racial, or sexist nature, considered unacceptable or illegal by certain institutions and afforded less protection than free speech.
- ‘In the presence of fighting words, the manly form of behavior was not turning the other cheek, but rather an immediate and aggressive physical response.’
- ‘Those are angry, fighting words to those who think King deserves a place of honor in history.’
- ‘While I have no idea what that means, I sense these are fighting words.’
- ‘Those aren't fighting words where we come from, but were in his world.’
- ‘But there was no need to touch someone you wanted to insult - you could utter fighting words instead.’
- ‘So why would ‘Black girl ‘yelled across a schoolyard become fighting words for me?’’
- ‘She thought her mother would say some tough fighting words or something that was completely uncaring at all.’
- ‘A follow-up letter from Corey was full of unretractable fighting words.’
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