I came across the phrase ‘Them’s fighting words,’ in the beginning part of a Time magazine (July 12) article in its Swampland section under the title “Don’t mess with the stimulus! It had all your creamed spinach and more.” The author, Michael Grunwald, seems to be defending Obama’s stimulus plan of infrastructure. The sentence in question reads as follows:
You know, the poor thing has no one to defend it but me. And me again. And yet again. So, its infrastructure spending was too “rushed,” and sent cash to the "least difficult and imaginative projects," huh? Them’s fighting words!
I interpret "Them's fighting words" to simply mean "They're fighting words." Can them be used as a subject being followed by the singular of "to be" and a transitive verb (fight) that takes the objective noun (words)? I’m puzzled if this is an established American usage of them or just a fashionable saying.