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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Feb 24, 2014 12:07 am

• peckish •

Pronunciation: pek-ish • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. (UK) Slightly hungry. 2. Irritable, cranky, crotchety, out of sorts.

Notes: We all react peckishly when we are out of sorts (the adverb) and may be blamed for our peckishness (the noun). Of course, the last thing we are apt to do is peck someone (give them a brief kiss) when we are peckish—unless it is the cook and we are hungry, not irritated.

In Play: Be careful of your location when you use this Good Word. In Britain and elsewhere outside the US, it is likely to be taken in the first sense above: "After the huge lunch we had today, I'm not even peckish now." I wouldn't even guess where we might say, "Being peckish makes me peckish," so that both meanings are retrievable, except where the exceptional readers of alphaDictionary's Good Words congregate.

Word History: Today's Good Word sports two meanings derived from the two meanings of peck. The sense of "slightly hungry" comes from peck "to eat little, unenthusiastically", as to peck at one's food. The other comes from the sense of chickens defending themselves from irritation by pecking at a threat. Both senses are attenuated by the suffix -ish "somewhat", seen in reddish, leanish, darkish, or "like" as in foolish, sheepish, and boyish. (It might make Rodger Collins a bit peckish if we overlooked thanking him for suggesting today's Good Word—so thanks, Rodger.)
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Philip Hudson
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Re: Peckish

Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Mar 06, 2014 2:32 am

No one has commented on this Good Word. I was not aware of the second definition. Peckish is definitely used as in the first definition by the British. I have read it and heard it in the British context. I have never used it or known an American that used it. I am more often ravenous rather than peckish.
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Perry Lassiter
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Re: Peckish

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Mar 06, 2014 3:52 pm

Actually, I have only heard it in the second definition and have no idea refer to being hungry. Not a common words, but used enough that I recognize it and might even use it. Peckish people can be picky. I wonder if there is a connection.

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