Fisticuffs is the act of fighting, or boxing, with bare hands. A heated argument can sometimes end in fisticuffs, with both participants punching wildly at each other.

If someone says to you, "Let's take this outside and settle it with some fisticuffs," it means you're likely to end up in a street scuffle. This seventeenth century word isn't too common these days, but it's a colorful way to say "fistfight." The word's form may imitate handiwork, or it might be based on the now-obsolete adjective fisty, "related to the fists," combined with the verb cuff, or "hit."

Definitions of fisticuffs

n a fight with bare fists

fistfight, slugfest
a fistfight
Type of:
combat, fight, fighting, scrap
the act of fighting; any contest or struggle

n fighting with the fists

boxing, pugilism
show 5 types...
hide 5 types...
professional boxing
boxing for money
boxing at close quarters
a boxing or wrestling match
a boxing tactic: pretending to be trapped against the ropes while your opponent wears himself out throwing punches
spar, sparring
making the motions of attack and defense with the fists and arms; a part of training for a boxer
Type of:
contact sport
a sport that necessarily involves body contact between opposing players

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.