Thursday, 12 February 2009

Cranky is as cranky does

...whatever that means. Interesting word, cranky; when it was applied to me in a blokeish blog the other day, I did not take offence, for in one of its senses it is entirely appropriate.

The OED treats it as two separate words. The first has several meanings:

cranky, a [A comparatively modern formation, covering a group of senses that hang but loosely together...]

1 Sickly, in weak health, infirm in body

2 Out of order, out of gear, working badly; shaky, crazy

3 Of capricious or wayward temper, difficult to please; cross-tempered, awkward

4 Mentally out of gear; crotchety, ‘queer’; subject to whims or ‘cranks’; eccentric or peculiar in notions or behaviour

5 Full of twists or windings, crooked; full of corners or crannies.

My friends know that my rude health, gentle diffidence, simplicity and sweetness of nature make the epithet totally inappropriate to describe me, and will recognise that it is only in its second sense that this word sums me up:

cranky, a (dial.) Brisk, merry, lively, disposed to exult
1837-40 HALIBURTON Clockm. (1862) Most of the first chop men cut and run, as they always do in such like cases, considerable cranky.
1886 S.W. Linc. Gloss., Cranky, merry, sportive. How cranky the boy is! he's full of quirks and pranks. [In dial. Glossaries
of Sussex and Hampshire.]

[Then there is curmudgeon. This calls for a post to itself, perhaps next month.]

No comments: