Definition of feisty in US English:


adjectivefeistiest, feistier

  • 1(of a person, typically one who is relatively small or weak) lively, determined, and courageous.

    ‘a feisty heroine who's more than a pretty face’
    ‘a feisty upstart’
    • ‘They are characters you can get underneath and they are all quite strong and feisty, but they are all flawed and frail.’
    • ‘There is undoubtedly a feisty spirit about the current Aberdeen squad.’
    • ‘Scotland were well beaten by a determined and feisty Irish side who now go to Twickenham next weekend with a chance of winning the championship.’
    • ‘The characters are feisty and unusual, but at many points I couldn't really understand where any of this was going.’
    • ‘They're all 6 feet tall and in their sixties or seventies and they're spirited and feisty.’
    • ‘It's a lively little read as it stands, but neither as feisty nor effective as it could have been.’
    • ‘He was stubborn and feisty, determined and driven, and that's the mark that he has left.’
    • ‘But she does have lots of feisty Irish spirit and a best friend called Marion, who enjoys a few drinks and a good old sing song in the local pub.’
    • ‘Yet set against that is the fact that this is a pretty dry effort with an unusual lack of feisty anecdotes, and this remains one for the real aficionado.’
    • ‘Connor brings a feisty sweetness to the stage, coupled with a well-integrated voice boasting a sizzling range.’
    • ‘But this is a sparky and feisty player who wears his heart on his sleeve.’
    • ‘When I meet Kate, with her shiny, white-blonde hair, bronze skin and feisty manner, I feel I already know her.’
    • ‘Still on the west side, a feisty and determined group of community residents looks set to achieve a fine piece of conservation.’
    • ‘Hadrian built his wall to keep out raiding parties from what is now Scotland; then, as now, the Scots were a lively, feisty people.’
    • ‘She speaks softly but forcefully, an indication of how feisty she can be.’
    • ‘He saw her physical beauty well enough, but he never noticed her intelligence or her feisty spirit.’
    • ‘Even so, the country has begun to ponder what it will be like without an outspoken, feisty prime minister.’
    • ‘She is stacked and feisty, but not actually that smart a player.’
    • ‘Be like President Truman and live an active, useful, feisty life into your late eighties or even longer!’
    energetic, spirited, active, lively, zestful, vital, vigorous, strong, forceful, powerful, potent, positive, effective, effectual, high-powered, aggressive, driving, pushing, bold, enterprising
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Touchy and aggressive.
      ‘he got a bit feisty and tried to hit me’
      • ‘A feisty, scrawny white guy is frantically attacking the black guy.’
      • ‘I simply nodded, quelling that feisty, fiery side of me, and offered yet another ghost of a smile.’
      • ‘Once they adapt to their new coach's ways, the team will be aggressive and feisty.’
      • ‘The feisty old lady lives alone but fights with the men almost every day.’


Late 19th century: from earlier feist, fist ‘small dog’, from fisting cur or hound, a derogatory term for a lapdog, from Middle English fist ‘break wind’, of West Germanic origin. Compare with fizzle.