ir·ri·ta·bil·i·ty | \ˌir-ə-tə-ˈbi-lə-tē \
plural irritabilities

Definition of irritability 

1 : the property of protoplasm and of living organisms that permits them to react to stimuli

2 : the quality or state of being irritable: such as

a : quick excitability to annoyance, impatience, or anger : petulance

b : abnormal or excessive excitability of an organ or part of the body

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Examples of irritability in a Sentence

the librarian's well-known irritability makes students hesitant to ask questions

Recent Examples on the Web

The steroids Tifft was on for treatment caused extreme weight gain, irritability and had to be dealt with. John Smallwood,, "Matt Tifft fought through brain cancer to return to racing," 1 June 2018 Another reason is that studies like this continue to add to the knowledge base on hormone replacement, helping reduce the fear that many women have about using hormones to treat their hot flashes and irritability. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, "Hormone replacement may fight belly fat, study says," 27 Mar. 2018 Symptoms of jet lag also include irritability, disorientation, nausea, gastrointestinal distress and trouble concentrating. Emily Sohn, Washington Post, "Time-zone changes can leave people worried about jet lag," 7 July 2018 Nightmares, sleep disturbances, and flashbacks are, to a certain extent, also typical after any trauma, as are irritability and anger. Laura Dorwart, SELF, "The Trauma of Surviving a School Shooting—and How You Can Help," 27 Mar. 2018 Like adults in withdrawal, infants feel the effects in every organ system; their symptoms include tremors, muscle spasms, shrill crying, irritability, diarrhea, vomiting, poor sleeping, and seizures. Marie Mccullough,, "Newborns in opioid withdrawal may do better on methadone than morphine, major study finds," 18 June 2018 Over time, kids living with the stress of community violence may become less engaged in school, withdraw from friends or show symptoms of post-traumatic stress, like irritability and intrusive thoughts. Darby Saxbe, Scientific American, "Living with Neighborhood Violence May Shape Teens’ Brains," 15 June 2018 Side effects of allergy medications can contribute to irregular sleeping patterns that increase irritability. Elizabeth Landau, CNN, "Sad in the spring? Allergy-mood link is real," 23 Mar. 2018 Now For the Bad Part Retinoids can cause redness, peeling, and overall skin irritability. Ashley Weatherford, The Cut, "Is This Vitamin the Secret to Smooth Skin?," 10 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'irritability.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of irritability

1755, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

6 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for irritability

The first known use of irritability was in 1755

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More Definitions for irritability


ir·ri·ta·bil·i·ty | \ˌir-ə-tə-ˈbi-lə-tē \

Kids Definition of irritability

: the quality of easily becoming angry or annoyed


ir·ri·ta·bil·i·ty | \ˌir-ət-ə-ˈbil-ət-ē \
plural irritabilities

Medical Definition of irritability 

1 : the property of protoplasm and of living organisms that permits them to react to stimuli

2a : quick excitability to annoyance, impatience, or anger

b : abnormal or excessive excitability of an organ or part of the body (as the stomach or bladder)

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Comments on irritability

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not any or not one

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