Thursday, April 3, 2014

The I in irascible

I have become so fond of the word irascible in the course of writing this blog that I have learned how to spell it. The key is the I in it. Or, more precisely, it is how I is in it a lot, more even than one might think. But while it sometimes seems like the most natural thing in the world for me to be irascible, and I quite like being right there in the center of irascibility, it is one of those states of being that is easy to fall out of. This is because irascible is beset on all sides by competing adjectives. I may start out delightfully irascible, teasing the stuffy rules by which we live, refusing to be held to folly, irreverent, a rascal, irascible, only to start sliding. Irascible drifts out of my grip and soon I catch sight of irritating. I don't want to be irritating! And before I can even start to twist irritating into being somehow a flattering adjective, irksome floods into the conversation. I don't want to be irksome! Irksome is irredeemable.  Is this irreversible?

The whole thing may have been doomed from the start. My irascible personality makes me ill disposed to accept the standardized meanings of words. It may be irresponsible of me, but I find it irresistible to put my own improvements into the irrefutable and unchangeable realities of the world. Indeed, it is that tendency in itself that I would describe as irascible. But I have found the dictionaries do not mention such a definition. 

Here are some random official dictionary definitions of irascible:

Marked by hot temper and easily provoked anger.

Having or showing a tendency to be easily angered.

Prone to outbursts of temper; easily angered.

This is straight up and down pejorative stuff, and my three sources are in solid agreement. Now here is my definition of irascible. Keep in mind this is based purely on what I think irascible should mean:

A temperament that is playfully antagonistic to the folly in the immutable laws of human nature and the universe.

I don't care that this is not the real definition of irascible. Mine is better. Some fights are worth fighting even if they are irrational. And though my position may be irreconcilable, irruptive, and, yes, irksome to some. It is irascible, and therefore it is beautiful.


  1. I like your definition better too!

  2. This is an excellent post. It suited my mood and need for levity. Thanks and please keep writing.

  3. Appreciate and agree with your definition.

    1. Thank you. This really is one of many words that I feel would be better served by long, freewheeling, and exploratory dictionary entries. The meaning of words seems to me to often be far more transitory, contextual, and malleable than any dictionary ever seems to let on.

      Then again, sometimes I just use words incorrectly.


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