Definition of touchy in US English:



  • 1(of a person) oversensitive and irritable.

    • ‘Miller acknowledges that fans of the first record might still feel estranged from the band and understand why fans of the genre can be so touchy.’
    • ‘Like other rail bosses, Mr Pollard is touchy about accusations that not enough has been done to improve rail safety in the year since Paddington.’
    • ‘They seem a touchy and aggressive lot and none of them seem to realize that aggression just leads to counter-aggression.’
    • ‘This explains why the French are so touchy about their language.’
    • ‘Diplomats from other countries were as touchy.’
    • ‘We get touchy about letting too many of these discoveries out of the bag too soon, because we want to be the first to publish them and the leading authorities on the subject.’
    • ‘And having tasted success, he is touchy about the movies he accepts.’
    • ‘Suffice to say, the authorities may have been a bit touchy.’
    • ‘In fact, estate agents are extremely touchy about how much they influence ever-spiralling house prices.’
    • ‘If a woman is touchy about one thing it is usually her age.’
    • ‘Okay, I'm touchy at the moment, that goes without saying.’
    • ‘If you go too slowly, the person thinks you don't want to hug them, and you have a touchy, cranky person on your hands for the rest of the evening.’
    • ‘Car owners have also become so touchy and fussy about the parking space that any encroachment leads to heated arguments and bouts of fisticuffs.’
    • ‘Before the Parkinsons he was never a touchy kind of guy.’
    • ‘Hooke was a difficult man, fiercely competitive, touchy, quarrelsome, and a vicious critic.’
    • ‘Certainly, the Americans have always been notoriously touchy when it comes to the inevitable gamesmanship that is always a part of match play at every level.’
    • ‘Even cool Capricorns can get touchy and easily upset during the Time of the Crab.’
    • ‘They often lash out suddenly and for no apparent reason, and may seem to be touchy or irritable most of the time.’
    • ‘And with Americans so touchy about their civil liberties, the Feds have to be legally covered to the hilt before they go snooping.’
    • ‘Now that the national has gone from relaxed and comfortable to alert but not alarmed, everyone's a little touchy about who might be up to no good.’
    sensitive, oversensitive, hypersensitive, easily offended, thin-skinned
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of an issue or situation) requiring careful handling; delicate.
      ‘the monarchy has become a touchy topic’
      • ‘This young man obviously knows how to handle touchy diplomatic situations.’
      • ‘They've actually hit upon a touchy topic here, so the less you let them know it bothers you, the better off you'll be.’
      • ‘So this is a touchy issue and may not be true for all cases of guys.’
      • ‘The city, hoping to stave off a touchy situation, tested the water, which turned out to be harmless.’
      • ‘The homeless can make for a touchy subject for artists.’
      • ‘So we thought as well, but let's thank Shirley for breaking down the walls of stereotypical misconceptions about this touchy subject.’
      • ‘For whatever sophistication guess hitting may require, it's also a touchy subject.’
      • ‘This is a touchy topic, and not just because people tend to assume that understanding is a precursor to forgiveness.’
      • ‘It's a touchy issue, I realize how complex and personal these decisions are to some people.’
      • ‘Suggesting that design controls might have a racial aspect to them is a touchy topic, however it is naive to pretend that they might not.’
      • ‘Residential crowding on campus is a touchy topic for upperclassmen.’
      • ‘Solid waste has become a touchy issue these days, with tempers flaring up at the slightest mention of the topic anywhere.’
      • ‘The natural body, the body as nature, and the nature of the body are three touchy topics in the realm of culture studies.’
      • ‘This was unsurprising, since the topic is touchy and the play controversial.’
      • ‘By acquiescing to both England and Germany through the Iberian Indecision, France completely avoids this touchy issue.’
      • ‘In this kind of situation, touchy subjects are skirted and cones of silence descend.’
      • ‘The biggest expenditure in those days was the horse feed for the fire department, a touchy subject in a town that had already burned down a couple of times by then.’
      • ‘In any event, the White House tonight is maintaining a diplomatic silence on this apparently very touchy subject.’
      • ‘He addressed the touchy issue of European-American relations.’
      • ‘Suicide is a touchy subject for the media, indeed the coroner has a full page of guidelines on how to write about it without inadvertently promoting it.’
      delicate, sensitive, tricky, ticklish, thorny, knotty, embarrassing, uncomfortable, uneasy, precarious, chancy, risky, uncertain, contentious, controversial, awkward, difficult
      View synonyms


Early 17th century: perhaps an alteration of tetchy, influenced by touch.