Definition of fighting words in English:

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fighting words

plural noun

(also fighting talk) informal
1Words indicating a willingness to fight or challenge a person or thing.
Example sentences
  • Translation: This six-letter word is fighting talk.
  • Still to come, it's a war of words and the Democrats are studying those fighting words.
  • ‘We're in mourning - leave us alone,’ he begged, before finding his voice and a vocabulary of fighting words.
2US Insulting or provocative words, especially of an ethnic, racial, or sexist nature, considered unacceptable or illegal by certain institutions and afforded less protection than free speech.
Example sentences
  • But there was no need to touch someone you wanted to insult - you could utter fighting words instead.
  • So why would ‘Black girl ‘yelled across a schoolyard become fighting words for me?’
  • In the presence of fighting words, the manly form of behavior was not turning the other cheek, but rather an immediate and aggressive physical response.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: fight|ing words

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