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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.

Origin of cranky

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

Synonyms for cranky

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adjective Nautical.
  1. crank2(def 1).

Origin of cranky

First recorded in 1835–45; crank2 + -y1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cranky

Contemporary Examples of cranky

Historical Examples of cranky

  • But he hasn't got no use for any of the guys that gets a cranky play in on him; he won't stand it.


    W. A. Fraser

  • He always was stubborn as an off ox and cranky as a windlass.

    The Depot Master

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • He's as straight and square and honest as he is obstinate and cranky.

    The Rise of Roscoe Paine

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • And if you think Ferdinand's the man to give in to a cranky Khedive, you're much mistaken.

    The Great Hunger

    Johan Bojer

  • He had been given only a mild shock, but it had been enough for his fluttery, cranky heart.


    Robert Sheckley

British Dictionary definitions for cranky


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
Derived Formscrankily, adverbcrankiness, noun


adjective crankier or crankiest
  1. nautical another word for crank 2
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 cranky

"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]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper