Definition of cranky in English:



  • 1British informal Eccentric or strange.

    ‘a cranky scheme to pipe ground-level ozone into the stratosphere’
    • ‘The administrators are cranky and making the strangest decisions.’
    • ‘Its images and quirky, cranky design return to the mind's eye long after the final credits.’
    • ‘He was the cranky and quirky old neighbor that everyone had.’
    • ‘We're not this weird, cranky, fanged minority that is secretly drinking blood in the name of its depraved godlessness!’
    • ‘I've also been labelled the ‘eccentric crank of Eldwick’ by a party with an equally cranky name.’
    • ‘We didn't want our town to get a reputation for being cranky.’
    • ‘Biodynamic theory and practice may sound cranky, but you can't ignore the growing numbers of bluechip wine estates joining the ranks, especially in France.’
    • ‘Once considered cranky, biodynamic methods are gaining respect worldwide, not least because of their excellent results.’
    • ‘In life he was regarded as an awkward customer, a cranky, eccentric figure with a talent for rubbing people up the wrong way.’
    • ‘Complementary therapies are not cranky, are not pseudo - medicine, and are well-accepted and thriving, even in small towns such as Forres.’
    • ‘It seems one crazy, cranky dollmaker has found the technology to shrink people down to the size of mere dolls.’
    • ‘We ourselves have no memory of being in the womb (though there are some rather cranky rumours to the opposite effect), and thus we cannot really imagine a foetus being capable of happiness or pain.’
    • ‘The fact he could be won round to this cranky idea demonstrates that he shouldn't be trusted in charge of a whelk stall, let alone the national economy.’
    eccentric, bizarre, weird, peculiar, odd, quirky, avant-garde, unconventional, off-centre, strange, outlandish, ridiculous, ludicrous
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  • 2North American Bad-tempered; irritable.

    ‘he was cranky after eight hours of working’
    • ‘She has a voluble and attractive personality, but even if she were cranky and bad-tempered I'd still go there because the food's really good.’
    • ‘Then again, I think they expect me to be a bit cranky at that hour anyway, so it works out.’
    • ‘Just remind them the family will be less cranky and short tempered if they can overcome jet lag first.’
    • ‘These individuals are emotionally robust despite their shy demeanour, and they have high standards for themselves, which is why they can seem cranky and irritable.’
    • ‘Others may experience brief periods of irritability, and some may seem cranky for weeks, experiencing crying episodes and disrupted sleeping and eating patterns.’
    • ‘The expanse of the day unfolds before me and I can't comprehend how I am going to distract my cranky baby for the next 12 hours.’
    • ‘The relentless sweltering had gotten to all of us, kids and adults alike; we were short tempered and cranky and prone to starting fights over nothing.’
    • ‘Now is the time of the season that people start to get cranky (even the chess players are looking a little irritable).’
    • ‘Eventually the train did come although it was three hours late and filled with cranky people who just wanted to go home.’
    • ‘I'm also depressed, cranky, annoying, and irritable.’
    • ‘She was cranky because it had taken over an hour to get the twins to go to sleep.’
    • ‘And, even though it's been a good day, I'm cranky.’
    • ‘Do you find yourself irritable and cranky, taking out your anxiety and frustration on those you love?’
    • ‘Most of the time, she was cranky and grumpy, experiencing this nonstop craving and hunger for ice cream.’
    • ‘It gives me the right to explain that my periodic short tempered, cranky moments are a biproduct of the disease.’
    • ‘This lack of rest has caused a radical shift in my personality, making me cranky, irritable, and prone to curse loudly at the slightest provocation.’
    • ‘She arrived in Hawaii, tired and cranky, 5 hours later.’
    • ‘Quigley returned to the treetop retreat hours later, looking tired and cranky.’
    • ‘I cried with laughter the first time I read this, and I still go there when I feel cranky, because it always makes me giggle.’
    • ‘Obviously my attitude hasn't been the best because the musicians keep telling me that I'm cross and cranky and difficult to work with.’
    bad-tempered, irritable, irascible, tetchy, testy, grumpy, grouchy, crotchety, in a mood, in a bad mood, ill-tempered, ill-natured, ill-humoured, peevish
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  • 3(of a machine) working erratically.

    ‘after a juddering landing the cranky plane eased up the runway’
    • ‘The engine, cranky, rusty, out-of-practice, whirred to life. The entire vehicle began to shake, violently at first, then settling.’
    • ‘The old, cranky generator breaks down with an annoying frequency, severing us from the computer and studio lights.’
    • ‘He would have had to spend many hours with expensive and cranky machinery in order to make phonetic measurements to correlate with listener judgments.’


Late 18th century (in the sense ‘sickly, in poor health’): perhaps from obsolete (counterfeit) crank ‘a rogue feigning sickness’, from Dutch or German krank sick.