In Newfoundland, the word "crooked" (pronounced crook-ed) is used to mean grumpy either as a temporary or permanent characteristic of an individual. It is used in the sense of "getting up on the wrong side of the bed" and is socially acceptable in the short term, for example, "Never mind, she's just being crooked".

Where does this usage come from? It doesn't seem to come from Hiberno-English which would the closest form to most of the Newfoundland dialects.


The Dictionary of Newfoundland English, The English Dialect Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary (paywalled) all provide various sources and dates for the figurative sense of 'crooked' (adj.), that is

Irritable, bad-tempered, angry; esp. in phr. to go crook (at or on), to become angry (at); to lose one's temper (with); to upbraid, rebuke.

[Definition from OED crook n. and adj., B. adj. 2. Austral. and New Zealand. Attestations date from 1911 to 1968 in an entry not yet "fully updated" for the OED Third Edition.]

The Dictionary of Newfoundland English gives a similar definition from Kilkenny Lexicon (The language of Kilkenny: lexicon, semantics, structures, 1996, Séamas Moylan):

'bad-tempered.' Ill-tempered, cross, cranky.

The English Dialect Dictionary provides various dialect sources for figurative uses of 'crooked' in the same sense (see sense 4),

Ill-tempered, cross, ‘crabbed.’

Attestations in EDD start with an 1816 quote sourced to Ayrshire (south-west Scotland).

On the face of it, uses of 'crooked', adj., in the sense of 'grumpy, ill-tempered', may have arisen from an earlier attested (1724) sense of the verb in a Scottish phrase:

to crook one's mou' (Sc.): to distort the mouth in expression of displeasure or ill temper.

[From OED definition 3c of 'crook' v.1.]

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