from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A blow with the fist: commonly in the plural, combat with the fists; cuffs of the fist given and taken.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A cuff or blow with the fist or hand.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun rare A fistfight.
  • noun obsolete A cuff or blow administered with the fist.
  • verb To engage in a physical fight.
  • verb obsolete To strike, fight or spar with the fists.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

fist + cuff ("blow with the hand"). Modern uses as a verb are a back-formation on the plural uses of the noun.



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  • I've never heard this in the singular before. But why not?

    January 9, 2008

  • Because one would use both fists, I'd imagine. :-)

    January 9, 2008

  • Well, suppose a fight broke out that ended after one hit. You could say the men came to fisticuff.

    No, seriously. It sounds like something Twain would have said, doesn't it?

    January 9, 2008

  • Or one of them got all smart-alecked and said he'd fight with one hand tied behind his back, so the other one was all, "Okay, you're ON, sucker!" and he decided he wanted to fight with one hand tied behind his back too.

    Mind you, someone else would have had to do the tying.

    January 9, 2008