Spirited, high-spirited, mettlesome, spunky, fiery, peppery, gingery mean having or manifesting a high degree of vitality, spirit, and daring.
Spirited implies not only fullness of life but such signs of excellent physical, or sometimes mental, health as ardor, animation, energy, and enthusiasm; the term’s implications vary widely, but it usually carries a suggestion of vigorous vitality, exaltation, or stimulation.
High-spirited can add to spirited a strong suggestion of dashing vigor and even of a temperamental unwillingness to accept guidance and control.
Mettlesome differs little from high-spirited except in its tendency to stress fearlessness and vigor more than restiveness.
Spunky often implies qualities similar to those suggested by high-spirited and mettlesome but it carries a stronger implication of quickness in taking fire and of an incapacity for being downed or daunted; also, the term is often applied to unlooked-for courage in persons or animals.
Fiery, peppery, and gingery are used as synonyms of the preceding terms when one prefers a more concrete term.
Fiery, suggesting the heat of flame or fire, implies impetuousness, passionateness, or sometimes irascibility in addition to spiritedness.
Peppery adds to spirited suggestions of a hotness or pungency characteristic of pepper and often distinctively connotes asperity or excitability.
Gingery carries a heightened suggestion of a zest, spiciness, or snap associated with ginger.