Definition of irritable in English:


See synonyms for irritable

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  • 1Having or showing a tendency to be easily annoyed or made angry.

    ‘she was tired and irritable’
    • ‘She seemed irritable, and annoyed with my every move.’
    • ‘The wait would grate so terribly on my nerves that I could easily be irritable for days afterwards, but that particular drive was different.’
    • ‘Will asked, starting to get annoyed, the pain in his head making him more irritable.’
    • ‘And these US marines smoking more than usual under the stress of battle conditions are becoming increasingly irritable.’
    • ‘Seeing Sam was growing increasingly irritable, he changed the subject.’
    • ‘She began to grow very irritable at the thought of what would be expected of her.’
    • ‘The group seemed very irritable after that unpleasant sleep and they moved sluggishly around the desert.’
    • ‘Teething can be uncomfortable, but if your baby seems very irritable, contact your child's doctor.’
    • ‘She turned on her heel and marched out of Derek's house, feeling slightly irritable.’
    • ‘They started to deny what was happening, had less energy and became irritable.’
    • ‘I am going delirious from lack of sleep, and I am extremely irritable.’
    • ‘In case you hadn't noticed, I'm feeling incredibly irritable this week.’
    • ‘You may also feel irritable, chilly, and thirsty for cold drinks.’
    • ‘My irritable mood at lunch had now turned into a full blown temper.’
    • ‘He suffered from an alternation of depressed moods with elevated, expansive or irritable moods.’
    • ‘I guess I've been a little salty, a little irritable.’
    • ‘He drove up to the person and stopped the horse, who seemed irritable.’
    • ‘The child calmed considerably when she held him, but continued to be irritable.’
    • ‘Your baby may dribble a lot, be irritable, clingy and have trouble sleeping.’
    • ‘When I am in a bad mood I become sensitive and irritable.’
    bad-tempered, irascible, tetchy, testy, touchy, scratchy, grumpy, grouchy, moody, crotchety, in a mood, in a bad mood, cantankerous, curmudgeonly, ill-tempered, ill-natured, ill-humoured, peevish, having got out of bed on the wrong side, cross, fractious, disagreeable, pettish, crabbed, crabby, waspish, prickly, peppery, crusty, splenetic, shrewish, short-tempered, hot-tempered, quick-tempered, dyspeptic, choleric, bilious, liverish, cross-grained
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    1. 1.1Medicine (of a bodily part or organ) abnormally sensitive.
      ‘I still have irritable bowels though and sometimes the pain keeps me up at night.’
      • ‘Because their skin is inherently irritable, patients with atopic diseases may not tolerate topical retinoids, even if they apply a moisturiser.’
      • ‘The drugs that treat asthma either relax the bronchial spasm, or reduce the inflammation that makes the bronchial tubes swollen and irritable to minor irritants.’
      • ‘An orthopaedic opinion was sought, and an irritable right hip was considered likely.’
      • ‘The patient with particularly irritable airways’
      • ‘An elbow pad may be used to avoid direct pressure on an inflamed, irritable nerve.’
    2. 1.2Medicine (of a condition) caused by abnormal sensitivity.
      ‘General primary care nurses were trained to deliver cognitive behaviour therapy to patients with irritable bowel syndrome’
      • ‘But acupuncture works well for certain kinds of conditions and irritable bladder syndrome is one of them.’
      • ‘It has been shown to sooth irritable coughs and other respiratory problems.’
      • ‘It is good for irritations of the body or mind, internal and external, and helps clean the kidneys, heal bladder infections and alleviate irritable bowel conditions.’
      • ‘Sometimes, gas indicates a digestive disorder such as irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease.’
    3. 1.3Biology (of a living organism) having the property of responding actively to physical stimuli.
      • ‘To be a receiver rather than just an irritable organism is to be disposed to respond reliably and differentially to the perceivable environment.’



/ˈirədəb(ə)l/ /ˈɪrədəb(ə)l/


Mid 17th century from Latin irritabilis, from the verb irritare (see irritate).