Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
- Given to or marked by an ill-tempered nature; ill-tempered, cranky, surly, crabby.
1839, “The youth of Julia Howard”, in Fraser's magazine for town and country, volume 20, page 618:
- "She is a cantankerous old maid," added another, whom I recognised, by his voice, as a man whose attentions I had put a determined check to not six weeks before: "she is a cantankerous old maid, fretting and snarling over the loss of her beauty."
1947, John Courtenay Trewin, Plays of the year, volume 47, page 195:
- I am being cantankerous. Some days I feel so cantankerous I could take a machine-gun into the streets and shoot down the whole population of Hendon Central; I don't know why.
1998, Pauline Chazan, The moral self, page 80:
- By contrast, cantankerous and churlish people are contemptuously independent of others’ opinions, not caring enough about others and their views.
2007, Linda Francis Lee, The Devil in the Junior League, page 44:
- Nina was thrilled, muttering her cantankerous joy that I was getting out of the house.
Note: Cantankerous is generally used to describe an unpleasant elderly person in a slightly pejorative manner. However, the term can be used to people in general, livestock, and machinery as well.
ill-tempered, cranky, surly, crabby