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See more synonyms for cranky on Thesaurus.com
adjective, crank·i·er, crank·i·est.
  1. ill-tempered; grouchy; cross: I'm always cranky when I don't get enough sleep.
  2. eccentric; queer.
  3. shaky; unsteady; out of order.
  4. full of bends or windings; crooked.
  5. British Dialect. sickly; in unsound or feeble condition; infirm.
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Origin of cranky1

First recorded in 1780–90; crank1 + -y1
Related formscrank·i·ly, adverbcrank·i·ness, noun


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Examples from the Web for crankiness

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The test of "crankiness," then, lies in the adequacy of the advantage reaped.

    International Language

    Walter J. Clark

  • Even Uncle Aaron lost some of his crankiness and seemed at times to be “almost human.”

  • He belonged to C Company, and was a man subject to occasional fits of crankiness.

  • But the legends to which my poor old uncle's crankiness have given rise really begin to get upon my brain.

  • For one and a half years prior to admission her "crankiness" is said to have become much worse.

    Benign Stupors

    August Hoch

British Dictionary definitions for crankiness


adjective crankier or crankiest
  1. informal eccentric
  2. mainly US, Canadian and Irish informal fussy and bad-tempered
  3. shaky; out of order
  4. full of bends and turns
  5. dialect unwell
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Derived Formscrankily, adverbcrankiness, noun


adjective crankier or crankiest
  1. nautical another word for crank 2
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for crankiness



"cross-tempered, irritable," 1807, from crank (n.) + -y (2). The evolution would be from earlier senses of crank, e.g. "a twist or fanciful turn of speech" (1590s); "inaccessible hole or crevice" (1560s). Grose's 1787 "Provincial Glossary" has "Cranky. Ailing sickly from the dutch crank, sick." and identifies it as a Northern word. Related: Crankily; crankiness.

Ben. Dang it, don't you spare him--A cross grain'd cranky toad as ever crawl'd. (etc.) [Richard Cumberland, "Lovers Resolutions," Act I, 1813]
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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper