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

them's fighting words

cliché What was said warrants a fight or confrontation. "Fighting" is often rendered as "fightin'" for colloquial or ironic effect. A: "Your dad was a sissy!" B: "Them's fightin' words, pal—I'm gonna knock your block off!" But to suggest that our nation should bend to the will of another, well, them's fighting words around these parts.
See also: fight, word
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in classic literature ?
"That's the stuff!" "No fightin'!" "No hard feelin's!"
It ain't real fightin', you know." With a troubled, boyish look in his eyes, he stared at his bruised knuckles.
"Th' general, he ses he is goin' t' take th' hull cammand of th' 304th when we go inteh action, an' then he ses we'll do sech fightin' as never another one reg'ment done."
"Ah, where deh hell was yeh when I was doin' all deh fightin?" he demanded.
I've been a fightin' for a bird and won him, that's all.
Fightin' for a bird!' replied Kit, 'and here he is--Miss Nelly's bird, mother, that they was agoin' to wring the neck of!
They're fightin' it in Augusty, but I'd back Ladd agin any o' them legislaters if he thought he was in the right."
"By the deported snakes!" he exclaimed, "Jawn McCaskey and his lady have been fightin' for an hour and a quarter by the watch.
Thousands date from the First World War, when millions of men from all over Britain set off to fightin France and Belgium.
In The Fightin Irish of Detroit: Fightin in the Streets Fightin in the Courts (An American Story), Lauck also explores the Irish influence in the Detroit legal community.
Trailing the Fightin Irish 28-15 at halftime, the players asked Beebe and staff to step out of the locker room so they could discuss the state of affairs among themselves.
The UAAP eligibility board initially denied Ricafort the chance to play in Season 80 as the Fightin Maroon will exceed the age limit of 25-years-old in January of 2018, smack in the middle of the sporting calendar.
But since I got to do my own fightin, I try not to have no trouble" (Guthrie 1975, 64).
* The first story, "Water Is a Fightin Word," postulates a world in which a scarcity of fresh water has resulted in massive domestic and international migration.