Several individuals aligning with this definition thought of the elderly and animals. These participants, including myself, believe "ornery" to mean a good-spirited trickster, a cute yet exasperating individual, or someone who is mischievous with a positive connotation. I was confused by this, as I did not mean the label as an insult. Many thought of a favorite and sweet wily grandparent or an adorable child who is always pulling April-fools-type tricks. The word is "ornery. No major dictionary has recognized the pronunciation "awn-ree. That definition is currently the only one I have found in modern dictionaries. A debate ensued, and we came to the conclusion that my definition of the word was entirely different from his definition. Oh, yeah, I'm from Ohio.
Although the majority of participants agreed with the dictionaries, a strong minority of participants had a completely different definition and had heard of no other. As one who has known only the pronunciation and meaning of "ornery" that is not recognized by any dictionary, I have an interest in creating awareness of my understanding of the "word. If I say it about an animal e. In fact, though participants were not asked what animal they associated with the word, many voluntarily submitted an animal that embodied the definition, including horse, hog, mule, and alligator the latter had the highest number of mentions, but that also corresponded to the individuals who knew the word from The Waterboy. Eager to find support for my position, I decided to ask friends, family, and co-workers for their thoughts on both the meaning and pronunciation of the word. I was confused by this, as I did not mean the label as an insult. These seem to be standard for dictionary definitions of the word. No major dictionary has recognized the pronunciation "awn-ree. A debate ensued, and we came to the conclusion that my definition of the word was entirely different from his definition. There is a near even split as to whether the word is pronounced "orn-er-ree" versus "awn-ree," with only a few people indicating "orn-ree" as their traditional pronunciation. I have since conducted a detailed survey of my findings. The summary of the survey is this: The majority of the survey participants agreed that their definition of "ornery" falls in line with the dictionary definition, i. I plan to recommend an amended dictionary entry for this word, and I believe that reaching out to Language Log may help the cause. Even when I declare that someone is an "ornery old cuss", I usually want to let him know that I like him for being the curmudgeon that he is cf. By , "ornery" had come to mean ill-tempered, disagreeable, or cantankerous. Now I'll let Amber speak for herself: Please let me know if you would like to see the results. That definition is currently the only one I have found in modern dictionaries. These participants, including myself, believe "ornery" to mean a good-spirited trickster, a cute yet exasperating individual, or someone who is mischievous with a positive connotation. The individuals who recognized this definition primarily came from the Midwest. A few participants fell somewhere between the two definitions, i. Oh, yeah, I'm from Ohio. By the way, I normally pronounce "ornery" with three syllables, but occasionally will lapse into two syllables "orn-ree" when I'm relaxed or in a hurry. The word is "ornery.
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