Definitions

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

  • adj. Touchy; quarrelsome.
  • adj. Full of spirit or pluck; frisky or spunky. See Regional Notes at andiron, feist.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Tenacious, energetic, spunky.
  • adj. Belligerent; prepared to stand and fight, especially in spite of relatively small stature or some other disadvantage.
  • adj. Easily offended and ready to bicker.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Same as fusty.

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

  • adj. quick to take offense
  • adj. showing courage

Etymologies

From feist.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
1896, American, feist (“small, aggressive dog”) +‎ -y; the term feist (now rare) itself originally meant “stink”, and earlier “fart”, from Middle English, from Old English, from Proto-Germanic, presumably from Proto-Indo-European – see feist for details. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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