I was perusing Twitter the other day when this turned up in my news feed (written by an American):
Luxembourg must be cross that the UK gets to provide the social services and they collect the taxes from amazon: shelf-awareness.com/theshelf/2013-…
The OED defines cross in this sense as “Ill-tempered, peevish, petulant.” All the citations are British, including Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813): “I have never had a cross word from him in my life.”
This is certainly not an unknown word in the U.S. But it is an old-fashioned one, with a rather twee feel to it. Dawn Powell used it (along with a similarly antique verb form) in her 1944 novel My Home Is Far Away: “In the morning he was cross if they waked him.” I associate the word with bordering-on-precious children’s books, as in anthropomorphic bears and ducks who are cross if they don’t get their porridge on time.
As the tweet suggests, the word appears to be getting some broader currency, in part because of the current appeal of NOOBs and in part because it occupies a useful spot on the ever-wider spectrum of annoyance, along with irked, frustrated, and pissed off.
In June 2012, a writer for minnpost.com observed, “Trying to understand all this made me cross.” And health policy expert Uwe E, Reinhardt wrote in the New York Times in March 2013: “I wouldn’t be surprised if the New Jersey hospital industry was cross at me and the commission for our role in the passage of Assembly Bill.”
My favorite recent American use comes from blogger Everett J. Smith, who titled a recent post post, simply, “The Pope Makes Me Cross.”