Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Having a savage and violent nature; ferocious. See Synonyms at cruel.
  • adj. Extremely severe or violent; terrible: "the fierce thunders roar me their music” ( Ezra Pound).
  • adj. Extremely intense or ardent: fierce loyalty. See Synonyms at intense.
  • adj. Strenuously active or resolute: a fierce attempt to escape.
  • adj. Informal Very difficult or unpleasant: a fierce exam.
  • adj. Savage or threatening in appearance.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Extremely violent, severe, ferocious or savage.
  • adj. Resolute or strenuously active.
  • adj. Threatening in appearance or demeanor.
  • adj. very, excellent.
  • adj. Of exceptional quality, exhibiting boldness or chutzpah.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Furious; violent; unrestrained; impetuous.
  • adj. Vehement in anger or cruelty; ready or eager to kill or injure; of a nature to inspire terror; ferocious.
  • adj. Excessively earnest, eager, or ardent.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Wild, as a beast; savage; ferocious; having a cruel or rapacious disposition or intention: as, a fierce lion; a fierce pursuer.
  • Ferocious in quality or manifestation; indicating or marked by savage cruelty or rage.
  • Violent; vehement; impetuous; passionate; ardent.
  • Wild; disordered; dreadful.
  • Strong; powerful.
  • Great; large (of number).
  • Brisk; lively.
  • Sudden; precipitate.
  • =Syn. 1–3. Infuriate, fell, fiery, passionate, barbarous, rapacious, ravenous.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. ruthless in competition
  • adj. marked by extreme intensity of emotions or convictions; inclined to react violently; fervid
  • adj. violently agitated and turbulent
  • adj. marked by extreme and violent energy

Etymologies

Middle English fiers, from Old French, from Latin ferus; see ghwer- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old French fers ("wild", "ferocious"), from Latin ferus ("wild", "untamed") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Grey was at his computer, his expression fierce as his fingers flew over the keyboard.

    Dark Warrior Untamed

  • Bryce tore his mouth from hers to stare down at her, his expression fierce with desire.

    A PROPER AFFAIR

  • He said that at least 10 rebels were killed and more than 30 wounded in what he described as fierce urban warfare.

    Gaddafi forces attack rebels anew, even as regime appears to seek talks

  • The government of Greenland awarded new exploration licenses to seven international energy companies in November, including Cairn, amid what it described as fierce competition for access.

    Cairn Plans Further Greenland Exploration

  • He swung around to face her, his expression fierce.

    The Devil Wears Plaid

  • You know, 40 years ago, Dr. King challenged America to act on what he called the fierce urgency of now.

    CNN Transcript Dec 13, 2007

  • And Iraq issues more threats this past weekend, promising that America would suffer heavy losses in what it called a fierce war if it were attacked.

    CNN Transcript Sep 30, 2002

  • He was the designer who once used the word "fierce" to describe a pair of chaps, made "hot tranny mess" a catchphrase and wore his hair in a style that looked like a result of electroshock therapy.

    The Seattle Times

  • Though it made him famous, Christian Siriano hardly ever uses the word "fierce" anymore.

    The Seattle Times

  • But with intense competition for customers resulting in fierce discounting battles among stores, inflation isn't as welcome now.

    Dilemma Over Pricing

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Comments

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  • That was news to me too, rt.

    June 17, 2009

  • Fascinating article, skip--thanks! I had no idea that the ampersand began life as a ligature.

    June 17, 2009

  • Huh, 6 days ago I observed that 'fluffiness' has two ligatures (in proper print), and coincidentally used the word 'decline'.

    June 17, 2009

  • Then you might enjoy this page about typographic ligatures, fc.

    June 17, 2009

  • I love the way that the "f" and the "i" collide in some fonts, and I love noticing whether they do in whatever font I'm reading. (Not in the wordie.org font!)

    June 17, 2009