Peckish is an adjective which can mean to be bothered/annoyed or to be famished. The hungry meaning is most popular in British English. The annoyed definition is quite less common, and almost exclusively found within the United States.

The adjective comes from the verb peck, which can mean to strike the ground with a beak or to pick at food and eat slowly. A third definition is to kiss quickly.

The noun form of this adjective is peckishness, but it is not recognized by most dictionaries as is best avoided in formal writing. (Though we found it in several leading newspapers.)


He’d probably be happiest if we left a big pot of stewed meat on the stove day and night, so he could just help himself whenever he’s peckish. [The Guardian]

On top of that, they’ll chug 49.2 million cartons of beer and, when they get a bit peckish towards the third quarter, they’ll get stuck into the chicken wings, of which about 1.23 billion will be consumed on game day. [The Queensland Times]

But before he boarded his flight, the peckish passenger stopped by the airline’s V.I.P. lounge where he treated himself to a buffet meal, one of his ticket’s perks. [Huffington Post Canada]

However, the battery business has always been a peckish one, prone to flare ups of price wars. [The Street]

And some of the early notices were on the peckish side. [TIME]

But mid-afternoon peckishness is harder to ignore, particularly in winter. [The Hindu]

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