easily irritated or annoyed; readily excited to impatience or anger.
Physiology, Biology. displaying irritability.
Pathology. susceptible to physical irritation.
Medicine/Medical. abnormally sensitive to a stimulus.

Origin of irritable

1655–65; < Latin irrītābilis, equivalent to irrītā(re) to irritate + -bilis -ble
Related formsir·ri·ta·ble·ness, nounir·ri·ta·bly, adverbnon·ir·ri·ta·ble, adjectivenon·ir·ri·ta·ble·ness, nounnon·ir·ri·ta·bly, adverbun·ir·ri·ta·ble, adjectiveun·ir·ri·ta·bly, adverb

Synonyms for irritable

1. snappish, petulant, resentful. Irritable, testy, touchy, irascible are adjectives meaning easily upset, offended, or angered. Irritable means easily annoyed or bothered, and it implies cross and snappish behavior: an irritable clerk, rude and hostile; Impatient and irritable, he was constantly complaining. Testy describes the same kind of behavior or response, particularly to minor annoyances: always on edge, testy and sharp in response; testy and petulant, resenting any interruption. Touchy emphasizes oversensitivity and readiness to take offense, even when none is intended: especially touchy about any reference to obesity. Irascible means habitually angry or easily aroused to anger: an irascible tyrant, roaring at employees for the slightest error. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for irritable

Contemporary Examples of irritable

Historical Examples of irritable

  • It will be guessed that Mr. Chalmers Payne was in an irritable frame of mind.

  • Casanova, however, had suddenly grown distrait and irritable.

    Casanova's Homecoming

    Arthur Schnitzler

  • You shall not complain of an inattentive or an irritable auditor.

    Vivian Grey

    Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli

  • Ninian joined them on the following day, very cheerless and irritable.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

  • Recollect that he is suffering under his wound, which has made him irritable.

British Dictionary definitions for irritable



quickly irritated; easily annoyed; peevish
(of all living organisms) capable of responding to such stimuli as heat, light, and touch
pathol abnormally sensitive
Derived Formsirritability, nounirritableness, nounirritably, adverb
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 irritable

1660s, from French irritable and directly from Latin irritabilis "easily excited," from irritare (see irritate). Related: Irritably.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

irritable in Medicine




Capable of reacting to a stimulus.
Abnormally sensitive to a stimulus.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.