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Related to Irritableness: crankiness


1. Easily irritated or annoyed.
2. Medicine Abnormally or excessively sensitive to a stimulus: irritable bladder.
3. Capable of responding to a stimulus. Used of an organism.

[French irritable, from Latin irrītābilis, from irrītāre, to irritate.]

ir′ri·ta·bil′i·ty (-bĭl′ĭ-tē), ir′ri·ta·ble·ness n.
ir′ri·ta·bly adv.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.




  1. Annoying as bird droppings on your windowshield —Elyse Sommer
  2. Bitter exasperation tightened like a knot in Mr. Casper’s mind —William Styron
  3. Bristling like a panther —Victor Hugo
  4. Cross as a sitting hen —American Colloquialism, attributed to New England
  5. Cross as nine highways —John Ray’s Proverbs
  6. Cross as two sticks —Sir Walter Scott
  7. Cross … like a beautiful face upon which some one has sat down by mistake —Victor Hugo
  8. Disgust like powder clotted my nose —Cynthia Ozick
  9. Disturbing as a gnat trapped and mucking about in the inner chamber of his ear —John Yount
  10. Disturbing as decay in a carcass —Julia O’Faolain
  11. Excitable … like a stick of dynamite just waiting for somebody to come along and light your fuse —David Huddle
  12. Feel feisty, like a galloping colt on a Mediterranean hillside —Tony Ardizzone

    In the novel from which this is taken, The Heart of the Order, the narrator’s irritability is caused by having his name shortened.

  13. Feeling ornery as a bunkhouse cook —Richard Ford
  14. Felt irritably ashamed, like a middle-aged man recalling last night’s party, and his unseemly capers and his pawing of the host’s wife —Wallace Stegner
  15. Gnaws like a silent poison —George Santyana
  16. Gruff as a billy goat —Mary Hedin
  17. Her grumpiness, her irritability, her crotchets are like static that, from time to time, give way to a clear signal, just as you often hit a pure band of music on a car radio after turning the dial through a lot of chaotic squawk —Laurie Colwin
  18. Irritable like a hedgehog rolled up the wrong way, tormenting himself with his own prickles —Thomas Hood

    The prickly hedgehog is a favorite image for describing irritability. A shorter variation of the above by Tolstoy is “Bristly … like a hedgehog.” Expanded versions include “The man who rises in the morning with his feelings all bristling like the quills of a hedge-hog, simply needs to be knocked down” (Josiah Gilbert Holland) and “An irritable man is like a hedgehog rolled up the wrong way, tormenting himself with his own prickles” (Thomas Hood).

  19. Irritated as a young stag is irritated by the velvet on his antlers —Rumer Godden
  20. (All the mistakes of my misspent little life came down to) irritate me like so many grains of pepper —Gerald Kersh
  21. Irritating as a coughing fit during a play —Anon
  22. Irritating as a fly that keeps buzzing around your head —Anon
  23. Irritating as one sock or an odd glove —Helen Hudson


  24. Irritating, like a dish of ‘chulent’ to an old man’s gut —Stephen Longstreet

    ’Chulent’ is a Jewish dish of meat, beans, onions. Obviously this is the type of comparison that could easily be modified to be more meaningful to other groups; for example, “Irritating, like a dish of hot chili.”

  25. Irritating like a gun that hangs fire —Joseph Conrad
  26. A minor nuisance, like having a tooth filled —Richard Connell
  27. Prickly as thistles —Lawrence Durrell
  28. Sizzle and splatter like batter in a pan —line from British television series “Bergerac,” broadcast June 1987
  29. Snappish as a junkyard dog —Robert Campbell
  30. Sulk, like an old man whose son had failed to make varsity —Clancy Sigal
  31. Tempers snapping like rubber bands —Anon, WNYC, Public Radio March 28, 1987
  32. Troublesome as a lawsuit —Colley Cibber
Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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(ˈiriteit) verb
1. to annoy or make angry. The children's chatter irritated him.
2. to make (a part of the body) sore, red, itchy etc. Soap can irritate a baby's skin.
ˈirritable adjective
easily annoyed. He was in an irritable mood.
ˈirritably adverb
ˌirritaˈbility noun
ˈirritableness noun
ˈirritating adjective
She has an irritating voice.
ˌirriˈtation noun
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.
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His physical examination revealed clear consciousness, moderate health condition, anxiousness, and irritableness. His had fever (temperature 39.1[degrees]C).
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(2004) found that, in a Madrid representative sample of the general population, 47% of the subjects showed "significant symptoms of acute stress" (confusion, emotional estrangement, nightmares, avoidance of situations or places that remind one of the event, irritableness, nervousness..).