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[ir-i-tuh-buh l] /ˈɪr ɪ tə bəl/
easily irritated or annoyed; readily excited to impatience or anger.
Physiology, Biology. displaying irritability.
Pathology. susceptible to physical irritation.
Medicine/Medical. abnormally sensitive to a stimulus.
Origin of irritable
1655-65; < Latin irrītābilis, equivalent to irrītā(re) to irritate + -bilis -ble
Related forms
irritableness, noun
irritably, adverb
nonirritable, adjective
nonirritableness, noun
nonirritably, adverb
unirritable, adjective
unirritably, adverb
1. snappish, petulant, resentful. Irritable, testy, touchy, irascible are adjectives meaning easily upset, offended, or angered. Irritable means easily annoyed or bothered, and it implies cross and snappish behavior: an irritable clerk, rude and hostile; Impatient and irritable, he was constantly complaining. Testy describes the same kind of behavior or response, particularly to minor annoyances: always on edge, testy and sharp in response; testy and petulant, resenting any interruption. Touchy emphasizes oversensitivity and readiness to take offense, even when none is intended: especially touchy about any reference to obesity. Irascible means habitually angry or easily aroused to anger: an irascible tyrant, roaring at employees for the slightest error. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for irritably
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "Then for goodness sake let her go home, and stay there till she is better," said the Colonel, irritably.

    Bluebell Mrs. George Croft Huddleston
  • "I wish Bosambo were to the devil before he left his country," said Sanders, irritably.

    Bones Edgar Wallace
  • The intercom buzzed again, and Gelsen irritably punched a button.

    Watchbird Robert Sheckley
  • "Not that way; of course not," the young man said irritably.

    The Unnecessary Man Gordon Randall Garrett
  • "You are certainly the most economical man I ever saw," declared the Prince, irritably.

    Prince Vance Eleanor Putnam
  • He waited a moment, then said irritably: "Well, well, we go to music then!"

    Beyond John Galsworthy
  • The latter carried it irritably past him without filling his glass.

    Bulldog Carney W. A. Fraser
  • "Because it is absolutely necessary," Sir Charles said irritably.

    The Slave of Silence Fred M. White
  • “Writing is such a nuisance when one wants to talk to a person,” he thought, irritably.

    Not Like Other Girls Rosa N. Carey
British Dictionary definitions for irritably


quickly irritated; easily annoyed; peevish
(of all living organisms) capable of responding to such stimuli as heat, light, and touch
(pathol) abnormally sensitive
Derived Forms
irritability, noun
irritableness, noun
irritably, adverb
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
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Word Origin and History for irritably



1660s, from French irritable and directly from Latin irritabilis "easily excited," from irritare (see irritate). Related: Irritably.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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irritably in Medicine

irritable ir·ri·ta·ble (ĭr'ĭ-tə-bəl)

  1. Capable of reacting to a stimulus.

  2. Abnormally sensitive to a stimulus.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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