Definition of testy in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtestē/


Easily irritated; impatient and somewhat bad-tempered.
Example sentences
  • He seems impatient with you, almost testy to the point of animosity.
  • Years later, the sacking still makes the normally placid Burt uncharacteristically testy, but he doesn't dwell on it.
  • The minute he is questioned, he becomes testy and defensive.



Pronunciation: /ˈtestəlē/
Example sentences
  • In the year before his death he dealt somewhat testily with the whole matter in an interview with a journalist on the Courier-Mail.
  • ‘So did I,’ Lashana grumbled, glaring at Cris testily.
  • He rambles and manhandles the equipment, testily blaming newfangled technology when he has difficulty with basic tasks such as placing a compact disc in a player.


Pronunciation: /ˈtestēnəs/
Example sentences
  • One final note: my sincerest apologies to anybody I have offended or hurt with my testiness in the past couple of days.
  • The mild suggestion of boredom he affects can't disguise a hint of testiness.
  • Here Jim is warming up to that state of testiness he can be known for, though I'm unclear who he's directing his scorn at.


Late Middle English (in the sense 'headstrong, impetuous'): from Anglo-Norman French testif, from Old French teste 'head', from Latin testa 'shell'.

  • test from Late Middle English:

    During medieval times a test was another name for what is now called a cupel, a shallow, porous container in which gold or silver can be refined or tested. The word goes back to Latin testu or testum ‘earthen pot’. The original function of the container lies behind phrases like put to the test and stand the test. See also acid. The first cricket matches to be called Test matches seem to have been those played between Australia and the touring English team in 1861–62. The term probably arose from the idea that the matches were a test of strength between the sides. If someone reproaches an irritable friend for being testy they are using a word which first meant ‘headstrong, impetuous’ and goes back to Old French teste ‘head’. The words are linked by the fact that teste (modern French tête) goes back to testum. In popular Latin ‘pot’ was used as a slang term for head in the way we might employ ‘use your loaf’ today. Tetchy has the same meaning but is unrelated—it is probably a variant of the old Scots word tache ‘blotch, fault’, from French.

Words that rhyme with testy

chesty, zesty

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: tes·ty

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