Simple Definition of ornery
: easily annoyed or angered
: difficult to deal with or control
Examples of ornery
Based on the best-selling book by Laura Hillenbrand, Seabiscuit tells the true story of an ornery, undersize, beaten-up Thoroughbred who becomes a champion in the 1930s. —Lev Grossman, Time, 21 July 2003
Critics have compared his work to Faulkner's. And like Faulkner, McCarthy is an acquired taste as well as a palate cleanser. He's a stubborn, ornery writer, known for his ornate sentences, arcane vocabulary, casual disregard for standard punctuation and untranslated bits of foreign dialogue that offer little in the way of a narrative compass to guide readers along. —Sara Mosle, New York Times Book Review, 17 May 1998
Telling her that would have been an invitation to getting my head chopped off, because she was a mean, ornery number until the day she died. —John Gregory Dunne, Harp, 1989
I'm getting more and more ornery in my old age.
<an ornery old man who always yells at the neighborhood kids to keep off his lawn>
Origin of ornery
alteration of ordinary
First Known Use: 1816
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up ornery? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).