Definition of crabbed in US English:

crabbed

adjective

  • 1(of handwriting) ill-formed and hard to decipher.

    • ‘The painfully familiar Cyrillic letters were crabbed and uneven - as if battered by gales.’
    • ‘A furry arm snaked out, hung a sign in a crabbed script, then whisked out of sight again.’
    • ‘It wasn't as though they were written down on teeny little Post-Its in crabbed penmanship and stuck onto the shelves backwards.’
    • ‘Plotinus wrote these treatises in a crabbed and difficult Greek.’
    • ‘It was written with a pen in a crabbed hand, and the sum and substance of it was this.’
    • ‘Inside, a crabbed script covered page after page, interspaced by occasional line drawings.’
    • ‘Thirty-four years after I made this crabbed notation - ‘Mr. Chapman and guest.’’
    • ‘The crabbed handwriting was identical to the one on the note.’
    • ‘Klessa's handwriting, in particular, is too damnably crabbed.’
    • ‘I have again spent too long reading Klessa's crabbed writing.’
    • ‘They are recording with their crabbed hands what they are saying, a full transcript of what may be occurring.’
    • ‘Atop the videocassette was a note penned in blue ink in my brother's surprisingly crabbed handwriting.’
    • ‘You're left with a notebook page of highbrows, scribbled in a crabbed hand.’
    • ‘Wendy noted the crabbed scrawl of her uncle's signature immediately above the notarization seal, then read the introduction.’
    • ‘On the wall hung a framed letter in faded brown ink, written in a crabbed and spidery fist.’
    • ‘For those not fluent in Italian, I will paraphrase the definition before me in Il Duce's crabbed hand.’
    cramped, bad, shaky, scribbled, spidery, laboured, illegible, unreadable, indecipherable
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    1. 1.1 (of style) contorted and difficult to understand.
      ‘crabbed legal language’
      • ‘She felt the attraction of libertine narrative in a less crabbed way than some of her better-known works might lead us to believe.’
      • ‘It is far too late in the day to impose a crabbed reading of the [establishment] clause on the country.’
      • ‘Warner's highly complex line of argument, winding around so much material, and so tightly, produces a compacted, even crabbed architecture.’
      • ‘One minute crabbed, spindly lines pick through the chords awkwardly, then suddenly there's a passage of effortless, fluid virtuosity.’
      • ‘The latter has the literary style of a crabbed academic philosophy professor.’
      • ‘Significantly, however, we need not view the verdicts in that deferential, crabbed way.’
      • ‘Well, we had a great time watching this show, and it made Martha's show seemed crabbed and small by comparison.’
      • ‘But this crabbed, Hobbesian spirit of social Darwinism has been bested before, and we can overcome it again.’
      • ‘His efforts to explore the ethical basis of legal rules goes along with a more crabbed style than is usual with Roman lawyers.’
  • 2Ill-humored.

    ‘a crabbed, unhappy middle age’
    • ‘His charming comedy about crabbed age and youth will be back in time for the holiday season.’
    • ‘It's a crabbed, narrow, unforgiving quality that was alive and well particularly for a couple of decades after the war.’
    • ‘Earlier, he attacked ‘all the crabbed, sour, anti-Europeans’ for ‘banging on about Europe becoming some kind of superstate’.’
    • ‘But if the only way to do it is via a cranky and crabbed dismissal of science, count me out.’
    • ‘Epstein's crabbed view of autonomy also highlights the bankruptcy of the libertarian view of child-rearing.’
    • ‘Why should the capital lose out because the rest of Britain is so crabbed and provincial in its attitude towards newcomers?’
    • ‘I felt crabbed and stinging-eyed and almost tore her head off.’
    • ‘Now we are like the crabbed geezers we used to sing about.’
    • ‘Noah has taken all the family's worries on himself, and he's in danger of turning into a crabbed old man.’
    • ‘These are, of course, the sour thoughts of a crabbed and incorrigible old cynic.’
    • ‘This common mantra of crabbed Republicanism became mine also.’
    irritable, fractious, fretful, cross, petulant, pettish, crabby, crotchety, cantankerous, curmudgeonly, disagreeable, miserable, morose, peppery, on edge, edgy, impatient, complaining, querulous
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Origin

Middle English (in the sense ‘perverse, wayward’): from crab, because of the crab's sideways gait and habit of snapping.

Pronunciation

crabbed

/kræbd//krabd/