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Definition: Grumpy.

Pronunciation: Grump-ish

Origin: The word Grumpy first entered the English language in about 1727, when the phrase humps and grumps, slights and snubs was used to describe someone who was sulky. The best description I can think of to describe someone of this disposition is a ‘mild sociopath’ – which, though it carries the same meaning, does sound infinitely more alarming than a ‘grump’.

Why this word?

It is not at all clear where the word grump comes from – but it is wonderfully descriptive. It is impossible to say the word without turning one’s face into the grumpish look of a grumpy person.

Grump is a known and used word. Grumpy is a universally known giant of a word (see what I did there?). Yet another perfectly acceptable adjective based on it – Grumpish – goes almost unused – despite the fact that it is a wonderfully melodic, indulgent word that seems to ‘fit’ better than grumpy in almost any situation you can think of.

Incidentally – Grumpish is Chrissy’s choice. Seán had some minor surgery this week. Why Chrissy would be researching words related to ‘grumpy’ this week is something of a mystery…

How to use this word:

Simple. Use it instead of Grumpy. In fact, I can think of no better way to rile a grump than to ask them why they are being so grumpish today. Throw that hammer at them and sit back to watch the caberet that will inevitably unfold.

PS – Although Chrissy had Seán in mind when choosing this week’s word, Seán would like to dedicate it to his brother, Ciarán, for reasons that will probably make Ciarán all grumpish if they were all to be listed here.


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Written by Sean Carabini

Seán Carabini is a Dublin-based author. To date, Seán has written the humorous travel memoirs 'Sticking Out in Minnesota' and 'American Road', as well as 'American Road: The poems' - a book of travel poetry related to the memoir. Seán has also developed a podcast based on the book - subscribe to the American Road podcast today! Seán is a committee member of the Irish Writers' Union.

Chrissy Skelton is Seán Carabini's editor. A graduate of the University of Minnesota's Anthropology programme, Chrissy emerged armed with an arsenal of little-known words and cumbersome jargon - all of which will now be off-loaded onto 'unusedwords' readers!


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