1. (noun) Someone who is bad-tempered, irritable, or difficult to deal with. An ornery person is often grumpy, stubborn, or combative, making them a challenge to be around.


The old man’s ornery disposition made him a terror to his neighbors, as he would constantly complain about the slightest disturbances and pick fights over trivial matters.

Fun Fact

The word “ornery” is derived from the dialectal alteration of the word “ordinary,” which originally meant “commonplace” or “of poor quality.” Over time, the meaning shifted to describe someone who was ill-tempered or difficult, likely because people of lower social classes were stereotyped as being crude and bad-tempered.