Definition of irk in US English:



[with object]
  • Irritate; annoy.

    ‘it irks her to think of the runaround she received’
    • ‘Now I'm a newcomer, but isn't the mainstream media's sense of establishment one of the things that most irks outsiders?’
    • ‘This book irks me a little in that I get this feeling that the author is one of those nouveau Brooklyn bohemes that think they're too cool for school.’
    • ‘What irked me originally, and irks me now, is that two newspapers (at least) should have printed what was clearly an overly rosy version of the facts.’
    • ‘It also irks me when people stop eating meat because ‘it's cruel’.’
    • ‘Something about people who start every sentence with I that irks me.’
    • ‘It's the sense of disposability and dispensability of the population that's ongoing and that really irks me.’
    • ‘What irks me most about this annual ritual of royal fiscal disclosure and the hue and cry that can be relied upon to greet it, is that nothing ever changes.’
    • ‘However, what really irks Henry is when his frustration in defeat or his lack of a smile when he scores is seen as a lack of respect for his team-mates or his opponents.’
    • ‘But what irks them the most is the lack of proper infrastructure.’
    • ‘One of the things that irks me a little bit about some commentary is that people often question reports without having any evidence to the contrary.’
    • ‘What particularly irks me about this kind of research study is that they invariably come to the conclusion that men are somehow less emotional than women.’
    • ‘It's the third essay which is particularly irking me, and which has provoked this writing.’
    • ‘It also irks me that anyone could be genuinely offended by this image.’
    • ‘But the border problem irks Matte, especially seeing how some other artists are let into the country over others.’
    • ‘It was McKenna's goal which was chalked off by the misguided assistant referee and it obviously still irks the Canadian as he has never sat down to watch the goal that might have been.’
    • ‘What really irks me about the finalists of the poster contest is this entry.’
    • ‘But it is his personal crusade to save the English language from terminal decay, as he perceives it, which irks him the most.’
    • ‘It is a significant Scottish story, yet it irks Miller that the London financial media display scant interest in its continued success, simply because it is a private firm.’
    • ‘It irks me that they wouldn't just give us the permit.’
    • ‘This irks me to no end and I sometimes chastise him about buying the kids' loyalty.’
    irritate, annoy, vex, gall, rattle, pique, rub up the wrong way, exasperate, try someone's patience, put out, displease
    View synonyms


Middle English (in the sense ‘be annoyed or disgusted’): perhaps from Old Norse yrkja ‘to work’.