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One of the characteristics of living things, it is defined as the ability of an organism to respond to external stimuli like touch, heat, light, electricity, etc. Every living thing is irritable (some more so than others, especially during menopause - sorry mom, I had to say it!). Many simpler organisms like plants respond to stimuli by moving towards or away from the stimulus. Movement towards the stimulus is called a positive response, and movement away from it is called negative response.

So if someone calls you an irritable bitch, tell them that you're proud of it because it's what makes you alive.

Ir`ri*ta*bil"i*ty (?), n. [L. irritabilitas: cf. F. irritabilit'e.]


The state or quality of being irritable; quick excitability; petulance; fretfulness; as, irritability of temper.

2. Physiol.

A natural susceptibility, characteristic of all living organisms, tissues, and cells, to the influence of certain stimuli, response being manifested in a variety of ways, -- as that quality in plants by which they exhibit motion under suitable stimulation; esp., the property which living muscle processes, of responding either to a direct stimulus of its substance, or to the stimulating influence of its nerve fibers, the response being indicated by a change of form, or contraction; contractility.

3. Med.

A condition of morbid excitability of an organ or part of the body; undue susceptibility to the influence of stimuli. See Irritation, n., 3.


© Webster 1913.

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