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fist +‎ cuff (blow with the hand). Modern uses as a verb are a back-formation on the plural uses of the noun.


fisticuff (plural fisticuffs)

  1. (rare) A fistfight.
    • 1852, Eli Bowen et al., The Pictorial Sketch-book of Pennsylvania:
      Every fifteen or twenty minutes there was a rush to some part, to witness a fisticuff.
  2. (obsolete) A cuff or blow administered with the fist.


fisticuff (third-person singular simple present fisticuffs, present participle fisticuffing, simple past and past participle fisticuffed)

  1. (chiefly humorous) To engage in a physical fight.
  2. (obsolete) To strike, fight or spar with the fists.
    • 1846, Making of America Project, The American Whig Review:
      Do they fisticuff with thunder-snaggs []

Derived terms[edit]