Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Ill-tempered; irritable.
  • adj. Chiefly British Somewhat hungry.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. irritable; crotchety
  • adj. Of or pertaining to Peckham, a place in Southwark London.
  • adj. Native to Peckham.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Inclined to eat; hungry.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Inclined to eat; appetized; somewhat, hungry.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. somewhat hungry
  • adj. easily irritated or annoyed

Etymologies

From peck1, to eat.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
peck (“(verb)”) +‎ -ish (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Where I come from "peckish" means hungry, or did back when people said "peckish."

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  • Meanwhile, my eyes are really dry and I'd like to put eye drops in so I can reinsert my contacts soon, and I'm feeling kind of peckish, but my pupils show no signs of undilating and I'd prefer not to be caught here, glazed and snarfing chips.

    Mmmmm, eye drops.

  • Then he stated that the beer was the best he had ever tasted, except in Bavaria, and in some parts of Spain, he added; and professing to be extremely "peckish," requested to know if there were any cold meat in the house whereof he could make a dinner.

    Men's Wives

  • He was getting what ha called "peckish" now, and was just going to the coffee-room of the Victoria Hotel with the intention of ordering a steak and a glass of brandy-and-water -- Mr. Carter never took beer, which is a sleepy beverage, inimical to that perpetual clearness of intellect necessary to a detective -- when he changed his mind, and walked back to the edge of the quay, to prowl along once more with his hands in his pockets, looking at the vessels, and to take another inspection of the deck and captain of the _Crow_.

    Henry Dunbar A Novel

  • They've been waiting a long time for this and will be peckish.

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  • It could go further - a designated 'packed lunch' storage area, so Seb and Trinny can return to pick up the crustless salmon sarnies and houmous Mum prepared for when they get a tad peckish.

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  • Breakfast is fruit and if I'm a bit peckish, wholewheat toast and butter.

    Louis Smith: 'I make a good roast duck. I won Ready Steady Cook with it'

  • Then the moment the creme brulees and tiramisus arrived he would say he was still a little peckish and join us after all with an ice cream.

    BritChick Paris: Why French Men Would Rather Die Than Diet

  • If you're peckish, they serve tuna, meat and vegetable empanadas.

    10 of the best barrio bars in Barcelona

  • Frequented by office workers, hipsters and local barflies, the long, narrow room has amber-painted walls, a giant mural of Thomas Mann's children Klaus and Erika, and some German bar snacks for peckish punters.

    10 of the best cocktail bars in Berlin

Comments

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  • I love that movie too. Time for me to watch it again.

    July 17, 2007

  • I knew it!! I just watched that again a couple days ago. One of my favorite movies. The phrase must have still been bouncing around in my subconscious. ;-)

    July 17, 2007

  • We are both right - and I was totally thinking of that same phrase. c.f O Brother, Where Art Thou?:

    Big Dan Teague: "Thank you boys for throwin' in that fricassee. I'm a man of large appetite, and even with lunch under my belt, I was feelin' a mite peckish."

    July 17, 2007

  • FWIW--American Heritage says "chiefly British"

    July 17, 2007

  • I remember hearing that there are, or recently were, isolated pockets of the south where near-Elizabethan English was still spoken. You could both be right.

    July 17, 2007

  • That comes to mind. I'm just speculating here, but the phrase "feelin' a mite peckish" also seems rather American (deep south) to me.

    July 17, 2007

  • For some reason I feel like this is a British thing. What do you all think?

    July 17, 2007

  • When you are past the point of peckishness, you may be ravishing;-)

    July 17, 2007

  • When I am feeling famished I will often say I am past the point of peckishness

    December 13, 2006