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Alternative forms[edit]


Contracted or dialectal pronunciation of ordinary.



ornery (comparative ornerier, superlative orneriest)

  1. (Appalachia) Cantankerous, stubborn, disagreeable.
    • 1922, A. M. Chisholm, A Thousand a Plate:
      Seemingly here was an intruder who was violating custom. Moreover, the partners had come to look upon this exceedingly rich district as their exclusive property. And so their indignation was extreme. / "The low-down, ornery cuss!" said Dobbs. "The nerve of him, crowdin' in on us, just as if there wasn't lots of other places for him to go!"
    • 1939, George Bancroft as Marshal Curley Wilcox, Stagecoach, written by Dudley Nichols:
      I ain't sayin' I don't share your sentiments, Buck, but you're a born fool. First place Luke would kill the Kid in a gun-fight. Second place if Luke did get shot he's got two brothers just as ornery as he is, and if Ike Plummer didn't kill the Kid then Hank Plummer would.
    • 1990, John Updike, Rabbit at Rest:
      “Grandpa, what’s ‘ornery’?” / “Oh, you know. Mean. Contrary. Rebellious.”
    • 2020 May 25, Abby Ellin, “Couples Who Eat Together May Not Stay Together”, in New York Times[1]:
      But in many instances, the complainers are not just being ornery; they could have a condition called misophonia, in which one experiences strong negative feelings to specific sounds — like the proverbial nails on a chalkboard.
  2. (humorous, Southern US) Mischievous, prankish, teasing, disagreeable but in a good way.
  3. (obsolete) Commonplace, inferior.

Derived terms[edit]