Definition of ornery in English:



North American
  • Bad-tempered or difficult to deal with.

    ‘an ornery old military man’
    • ‘Sure, she was an ornery old witch, and maybe I wanted to kill her myself, but I wouldn't have the nerve to actually do it.’
    • ‘Growling softly at the guard, pretending to be my usual, ornery self and blaming him for the shortness of chain.’
    • ‘He's swimming twice a day in his usual morning and evening swim, playing a little golf and going to the office regularly and just being his usual, ornery self.’
    • ‘This's essential when writing of an artist who has recorded at least three times as much material as he's released and comes across as the most contradictory, ornery, old cuss imaginable.’
    • ‘However, Therese was getting ornery in her old age, and had never done anything according to plan, so it figured that instead of being indifferent, she would want to make her daughter's wedding as much a living hell as possible.’
    • ‘Hernandez lets us see the stubborn and ornery side of this difficult character, rather than making him into some sort of saint.’
    • ‘Most afternoons, it's the two older players who bicker the most, like ornery retirees on a park bench.’
    • ‘Who doesn't love the image of the ornery old man shouting, ‘You kids stay out of my yard!’’
    • ‘During his last lesson of the day, Jerry was finally able to calm down after dealing with an ornery horse buyer who still thinks smoking in a barn is a safe idea.’
    • ‘Just to be ornery, Mike tooted again and the old man shook a fist.’
    • ‘Hyperactive, troublesome, ornery and just plain prolific… here comes Ryan again and he still means business.’
    • ‘Ryo was carrying a worn-out Chava on his back, and Zaila too looked tired and ornery.’
    • ‘While Spike Lee favourite Davis's deadpan performance as JFK is great, Campbell's portrayal of the ornery old Elvis steals the film.’
    • ‘I noticed an ornery three year old testing his mother's patience with slaps to the face, and amazingly, bites to the shoulder and arm.’
    • ‘Together, Greg, Jerwon, and Dana helped Zet tackle the ornery Woolyford, which was a difficult thing to do since the ram had the strength of a bear.’
    • ‘From other interviews I'd seen, I knew Jim could make things difficult for me if he was in one of his ornery moods.’
    • ‘The gas counter was run by an ornery, old-west character who got his nickname from the vodka cases he stored in a hidden cave across the highway from his filling station.’
    • ‘‘Aw, come on now, you ornery old sonuvabitch, just one sarsparilla and I'll be out of all your ways,’ Sean laughed and reached for a nearly full glass on the bar.’
    • ‘No word on how officials dealt with this ornery little critter, but judging by the general good temper of both voters and officials, my guess is that they simply made it stand in the corner for the rest of the evening.’
    • ‘But however difficult, however ornery, however discontent with mere beauty the book becomes, it is impossible to resist the unironic joy with which Grossman performs the work of poetry.’
    tedious, dull, monotonous
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Early 19th century: variant of ordinary, representing a dialect pronunciation.