Definition: Easily irritated, acting out of sorts, fretful

adverb – peevishly

noun – peevishness

Etymology: Peevish seems widely considered to have an unknown origin. However, research suggests the word most likely relates to the 14th-century word, peyvesshe, which meant perverse, capricious and silly. Later versions of the word peevish evolved past the 15th century to mean cross, fretful and ill-tempered, as it’s defined today.

William Shakespeare seems to have been rather fond of the word peevish and used it throughout his plays. One such instance is in “Gentleman of Verona,” where the duke describes his daughter as peevish, sullen, forward and proud.

A shortened version of the word is used to describe a pet peeve.

Peevish translated into Italian is stizzoso, pronounced stiz-zo-so.

In a Sentence

The baby did not sleep last night, so she is a bit peevish this morning.

I tried a joke to lighten the mood, but my dad was peevish after the accident.

The doctor ordered some tests after talking to his peevish patient.