Definition of fighting words in US English:

fighting words

plural noun

  • 1Words indicating a willingness to fight or challenge someone.

    • ‘Those are fighting words in the staid business of reinsurance.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Mr McDonagh has heard such fighting talk before, but this time thinks something will happen.’
    • ‘‘We're in mourning - leave us alone,’ he begged, before finding his voice and a vocabulary of fighting words.’
    • ‘Maybe Hood's just looking for attention, and once that attention is achieved, he suddenly loses his fighting talk.’
    • ‘He seemed to be about to back up those fighting words with something more substantial when he won the first race of the season.’
    • ‘These are fighting words for a man whose earlier work seems a long, quiet morning of congenial thought.’
    • ‘Translation: This six-letter word is fighting talk.’
    • ‘Still to come, it's a war of words and the Democrats are studying those fighting words.’
    • ‘Besides, Paterson is in too hospitable a mood for fighting talk.’
    • ‘That amounts to fighting words in a business devoted to selling kids image over substance.’
    • ‘And it seems as if Dominique has already mastered the fighting talk.’
    • ‘This is fighting talk by a man who has come to appreciate that he speaks from a position of power.’
    • ‘You want to know what fighting words sound like.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Such thinking only provokes more 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.’
    • ‘Those were fighting words for councillor Stu Kennedy, who refused to compromise the bypass road.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There was fighting talk.’
    • ‘I mentioned a need for more accommodation towards asylum seekers - fighting words in KKK country.’
    1. 1.1US Words expressing an insult, especially of an ethnic, racial, or sexist nature.
      • ‘But there was no need to touch someone you wanted to insult - you could utter fighting words instead.’
      • ‘While I have no idea what that means, I sense these are fighting words.’
      • ‘Those are angry, fighting words to those who think King deserves a place of honor in history.’
      • ‘A follow-up letter from Corey was full of unretractable fighting words.’
      • ‘She thought her mother would say some tough fighting words or something that was completely uncaring at all.’
      • ‘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 aren't fighting words where we come from, but were in his world.’
      • ‘So why would ‘Black girl ‘yelled across a schoolyard become fighting words for me?’’