[ awr-nuh-ree ]
/ ˈɔr nə ri /

adjective, or·ner·i·er, or·ner·i·est. Dialect.

ugly and unpleasant in disposition or temper: No one can get along with my ornery cousin.
stubborn: I can't do a thing with that ornery mule.
low or vile.
inferior or common; ordinary.

Origin of ornery

First recorded in 1790–1800; contraction of ordinary
Related formsor·ner·i·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ornery

British Dictionary definitions for ornery


/ (ˈɔːnərɪ) /

adjective US and Canadian dialect, or informal

stubborn or vile-tempered
low; treacherousan ornery trick
Derived Formsorneriness, noun

Word Origin for ornery

C19: alteration of ordinary
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 ornery



1816, American English dialectal contraction of ordinary (adj.). "Commonplace," hence "of poor quality, coarse, ugly." By c.1860 the sense had evolved to "mean, cantankerous." Related: Orneriness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper