feisty /FIY-stee/. adjective. Lively, tenacious, excitable, aggressive. From American English feist (small dog) > from fisting cur(derogatory term for lap dog) > from Middle English fysting curre (stinking cur) > from Middle English fysten (break wind) > from Proto-Germanic fistiz (fart). See also: spunky, plucky, gutsy, spirited, etc. || Pairs with the legendary Embuggerance & Feisty article.
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, an “1811 slang dictionary defines fice as ‘a small windy escape backwards, more obvious to the nose than ears; frequently by old ladies charged on their lap-dogs.’”
“My! Don’t he look feisty?” commented Octavia, with courteous admiration. “Watch him jest a-lickin’ out his tongue in Eve’s face. Lord,” she sighed conventionally, “how prone women air to sin!” (Alice MacGowan)
“His chest and arms are a panorama of tattooed emblems: feisty dragons, coiled chrysanthemums, uncoiled serpents.” (Truman Capote)
“A few experiments with foster parents did not end happily. I was what’s known as a ‘feisty child’. In the end the state agreed I was best off with the Jesuit Brothers.” (David Mitchell)