Thursday, October 17, 2013

Word of the Week: Irascible

Welcome back to (drumroll please)....


This week's word is Irascible.

i·ras·ci·ble (iˈrasəbəl), adjective
1. Having or showing a tendency to be easily angered.
Synonyms: irritable, quick-tempered, short-tempered, hot-tempered, testy, touchy, tetchy, edgy, crabby, petulant, waspish, dyspeptic, snappish

Used in a sentence:

As the angry client stalked away, the staff uttered a collective sigh of relief. "That was a very irascible gentleman," said Mrs. M. (She then exclaimed, "Ooh - good word! I think I'll make it the Word of the Week).

Most recently seen or heard in:

A conversation with my boss.

Why I like this word:

1. It has a raspy, peppery sound that perfectly fits its meaning. (So do many of its synonyms.)

2. It looks interesting in print. (This is very subjective and difficult to explain. Some letter combinations look better than others, to my eye - and "irascible" is visually fascinating.)

3. Consider the alternatives:

Irritable - a scratchy word, making her who says it sound irritable
Hot-tempered - too thumpity
Touchy - too much like "touchy-feely"
Tetchy - an itchy word
Edgy - rather a positive term these days, applied more to art than to temperament
Waspish - a stinging word that implies a venomous intent
Snappish - sounds too much like a fish or a turtle

Irascible is at once both softer and sharper than these. It's peppery but not poisonous. It is also, for reasons unknown to me, a word most often applied to males.

I see Irascible as a red-faced chap with a bristly mustache and steam coming out of his ears. He's impatient and demanding, often rude, and rarely lets you get a word in edgewise. But he can be strangely susceptible to acts of kindness. When apoplexy strikes (as it invariably will, given his high blood-pressure), send him a get-well card. You may find that under all the bluster he hides a tender heart.
A little kindness ... would do wonders with [him] -- Lewis Carroll
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
Irascible.

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How do you deal with irascible people?

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15 comments:

  1. I try to remain calm and helpful with irascrible people. I think it usually helps calm the situation. I know if I get a bit worked up and someone is helpful to me I feel much better. Don't fan the flames I guess you could say. Good word.

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  2. I really like your word of the week blogs. And this week's word is one even this English teacher never has used. I am impressed! ;))) Linda

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  3. Ira-means anger, wrath, rage, fury in Latin. My internal ear hears the vibrative sound of "R" in all those words! but then, I'm a Polish speech therapist and sounds mean a lot to me :)
    "RRRR" in it's vibrative state is a very angry sound indeed. Even animals use it. Or maybe human beings use it when they regress to animal state of mind when enraged, furious, in a state of wrath???
    Words "kind", "mild", "gentle" don't have any Rs in them :) Isn't that curious?
    Poor Mr. Irascible!! I hope he doesn't get that apoplexy after all!

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  5. A lovely word indeed, I am still using your last weeks word, now I have another to add to my repertoire, people are going to start to look at me with more respect I can see that and it's all thanks to you, haha. I have to face many irascible people believe me. I use the honey sweet approach, it always seems to work, how can you stay angry with someone who has such a sweet smile and such a helpful demeanour :)

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  6. I rather like irascible too, I think of it as rather Dickensian, like choleric and curmudgeonly, that last being my favourite of the three.

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  7. It's Latin: ira (m) = wrath, anger
    I love words with Latin roots. :-)

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  8. I adopt them. :) Ha ha ha! Snicker of the Day to go with your Word of the Day!!!

    PS: GREAT word!

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  9. Oh I love it Mrs. M, this describes me when I am in a prickly mood but I mostly admit to it and ask people around me to forgive me if I get snappy or tetchy! I tend to remain gentle and calm around irascible people and often they end up apologising at how silly they are being! Keep these wordy posts coming please. My aim tomorrow is to find an opportunity to use this fabulous word, irascible...just rolls off the tongue x Penny

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  10. Loving these posts Sue, love Annies' curmudgeonly as well.

    CLaire :)

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  11. I am pondering your last question! (the verses give me some good clues of what I should do :)
    Gracie

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  12. I turn the other cheek and pretend they're nicer than they are, can't control their behavior only my own.

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  13. Irascible has been one of my favorite words since I had to write a college paper on Jack Nicholson's character, Col. Jessup, in "A Few Good Men."

    I've been meaning to tell you, Sue that I love your blog's new look and the heading picture is just perfect .

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  15. I've actually heard that word before. Or read it. :) My boss likes to use unusual words in his Superintendent's Notes so I often have to google for meaning. Always interesting and I learn something new. I walk away from short tempered people or just stare at them with bemusement. :) Life's too short! Have a great week. Tammy

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