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annoy, irritate


to irk = jdn. irritieren, verärgern, ärgern, verdrießen



"Concessions to Ukraine, which had particularly IRKED farmers in neighbouring countries such as Poland and Romania, are being rolled back, even as EU leaders this week discuss sending it €50bn ($54bn) in aid to keep its economy afloat.”

Charlemagne —The Economist (1st February 2024)

“Norway IRKED over Sweden’s silence on rocket that crashed on its shores. Research rocket launched from Kiruna, northern Sweden, had plunged into mountainside in Norway’s far north.”

AFP in Oslo — The Guardian (25th April 2023)

Did you

transitive verb

- to annoy someone

- to make weary, irritated, or bored

The Cambridge Dictionary / Merriam-Webster

NOTE: You'll also come across the adjective form "irksome"


The verb "irk" originated in the mid-1500s from the Middle English irken meaning "to weary, tire, or become bored”.

It derives from the Old Norse yrkja meaning "to work” — the original literal sense was "to tire by work”.

The Old Norse root comes from the Proto-Germanic wurkijaną and ultimately the Proto-Indo-European werg- meaning "to do”.

By the 1600s, "irk" had developed the figurative meaning "to annoy, irritate" in addition to the literal "to tire".

The sense of being weighed down or oppressed led to meanings like "weary of" or "averse to".

Today "irk" commonly means "to annoy, irritate, or exasperate" but retains connotations of boredom and weariness as well.


When Themistocles Threatened a City That Refused to Pay Tribute

A Greek city state allied with Athens, irked by Themistocles' frequent demands for money, refused to pay tribute. Anchoring his fleet off a small island, he sent a message declaring that two powerful deities — Persuasion and Force — would compel them to comply. The intrepid islanders replied that they were motivated by a pair of gods of their own: Poverty and Despair.

- - -

When Steve Martin was Accosted by Autograph Hunters

Irked by obnoxious autograph-seekers, Steve Martin once developed a simple solution. Instead of an autograph, Martin would hand out a business card: "This certifies that you have had a personal encounter with me," it read, "and that you found me warm, polite, intelligent and funny."


abrade, aggravate, agitate, anger, animadvert, annoy, badger, bother, bore, chafe, chivvy, bother, consternate, discommode, displease, discomfort, exasperate, fret, get at (on one's nerves), get under one's skin, goad, grate, gripe one's soul, harass, harry, heckle, hose, incommode, IRK, irritate, jangle, needle, nettle, niggle, peeve, perturb, pester, plague, raise hackles, rankle, rattle, rile, ruffle (feathers), torment, tread on corns, vex, wind/work up

SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“When IRKED by the waiting time for customer service to answer, I cheer myself up with cooking and nice music.”

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