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  • Adj.

pugnacious

puhg-NAY-shuhs

Context
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Charlotte Marie is one pugnacious dog: she will start a fight over the smallest thing. One day an unlucky salesman came to the house where this pugnacious, combative dog lives. It’s a good thing she’s small, because she tore right out of the house and pugnaciously bit him on both ankles, barking and biting wildly. Her owner wishes the pugnacious Charlotte Marie wasn’t so ready to fight, although it does come in handy when unwanted visitors come to the door.

Quiz: What is a pugnacious way of acting?

  • Like a dog.
  • In an aggressive, hot-tempered way.
  • In an irrational, little understood way.

Memory Hook
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Vicious Pug The pugnacious pug was so vicious it would bite everyone it met.

Examples
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  • The winner of the inaugural Caesars Palace Grand Prix was Alan Jones, 35, a stocky, pugnacious Australian who had won the driving title last year. —Sports Illustrated
  • The critical difference between the two: While Nadal is clearly galvanized by the concept of a rivalry, Federer can appear annoyed by the presence of such a bold and pugnacious challenger. —Sports Illustrated
  • Brickman, 64, is a pugnacious, abrasive political conservative who is given to offering reporters red-meat sound bites savaging plaintiffs lawyers for alleged ethical abuses. —CNN
  • That they are no longer at the bottom, politically at least, is embodied by the woman they call Behenji, or sister, a pugnacious, squat former schoolteacher who is the country’s first female Dalit chief minister. —The New York Times

Word Ingredients
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pugn fight
-acious inclined to, abounding in

One who is pugnacious is “inclined to or abounding in” wanting to “fight.”

Word Theater
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Tom and Jerry A pugnacious dog is after the cat again.
Pugnacious

Word Constellation
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Pugnacious

Word Variants
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pugnacity n aggressiveness