Definition of pugnacious in English:



  • Eager or quick to argue, quarrel, or fight.

    ‘his public statements became increasingly pugnacious’
    • ‘A catfight breaks out between restless, wilful Miss Braund and her pugnacious chaperone, Mrs Hammond, ending with a slap from the hostess, the hatchet-faced Mrs Rogers.’
    • ‘Bass being pugnacious and aggressive creatures by nature, the take is often a very violent affair.’
    • ‘What a way to go for the most pugnacious, aggressive Liberal minister I've seen in action.’
    • ‘The milquetoast types of New Labour never come off well when they try to act like self-styled pugnacious political heavyweights.’
    • ‘After seven months as a mostly low-profile attorney general, he re-emerged as a pugnacious, crusading politician, fully in keeping with his past as one of the Senate's most passionately conservative members.’
    • ‘As is well known, the robin is pugnacious, fighting with its own kind and attacking other birds.’
    • ‘There's nothing - absolutely nothing - that the pugnacious little Dubliner likes better than standing centre stage, dodging the brickbats.’
    • ‘The adult males are extremely pugnacious and fight fiercely with one another.’
    • ‘A pugnacious, charismatic figure, the potentially dicey situation he is facing at Rangers is small beer in comparison to the personal trauma he has overcome through sheer force of will.’
    • ‘Her other abiding passion came in the form of a pugnacious Labour politician, nicknamed ‘The Butcher’ for his savage attacks on the SNP.’
    • ‘They absorbed a lot of pressure, their back four, hard-working and combative in face of opponents who were persistent and pugnacious.’
    • ‘The interviewer got nowhere with trying to manipulate or trip up the pugnacious trial lawyer turned politician.’
    • ‘Enthusiastic is one word that works, driven is another that can be recommended, there's pugnacious of course, and yet the best one might be ‘expert’.’
    • ‘His life was one of varied and significant achievements - an advocate at the Scottish bar, a sound if impatient and pugnacious judge of the Court of Session, and a politically active Whig.’
    • ‘According to my bird book, bulbuls are pugnacious, and are still used as contestants in bulbul fights.’
    • ‘A pugnacious manager opens the door and leads us to a living room filled with people - Palmer's son and daughter, his wife, and the man himself, looking dapper in brown leather shoes and a blue Savile Row shirt.’
    • ‘He had a walking stick and his whole manner was so pugnacious and focused.’
    • ‘The pugnacious, charismatic hectoring figure shown in his full glory on television in recent days also remains a prime candidate to host a similarly hard-hitting political talk show.’
    • ‘Has the world's most pugnacious advocate for the world's poor, a man who almost single-handedly brought the appalling images of famine-struck Africa into the front rooms of millions of Britons, finally gone too far?’
    • ‘He was an outspoken advocate of law reform, a pugnacious critic of established political doctrines like natural law and contractarianism, and the first to produce a utilitarian justification for democracy.’
    combative, aggressive, antagonistic, belligerent, bellicose, warlike, quarrelsome, argumentative, contentious, disputatious, defiant, hostile, threatening, truculent
    View synonyms


Mid 17th century: from Latin pugnax, pugnac- (from pugnare ‘to fight’, from pugnus ‘fist’) + -ious.