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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: How might a pugnacious person act?

  • They would use force and aggression to get what they want.
  • They would tell funny stories and jokes to make people like them.
  • They would be sneaky and corrupt in order to achieve a goal.

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 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
  • A pugnacious patrician who was a peacemaker to the core, he became the first director of the Peace Corps and ran Lyndon Johnston’s War on Poverty. —The Christian Science Monitor
  • 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

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