fighting words

(redirected from them's fighting words)

fighting words

Speech meant to provoke a fight or confrontation with someone. The senatorial candidate issued strong fighting words to her opponent today, challenging her to an open debate on the matter of tax increases.
See also: fight, word

fighting words

A statement bound to start a quarrel or fight. It is often expressed as them's fighting words, as in You say your father's smarter than mine? Them's fighting words. The ungrammatical use of them's for "those are" emphasizes the folksy tone of this colloquialism, first recorded in Ring Lardner's Gullible's Travels (1917).
See also: fight, word
References in periodicals archive ?
Them's fighting words, but Axl doesn't seem that bothered.
Them's fighting words (at least in Elizabethan England), but she was greeted with nothing but a round of laughter and cheers.
To speak colloquially, them's fighting words," not dialoguing words.