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crab·bed / ˈkrabəd/ • adj. 1. (of handwriting) ill-formed and hard to decipher. ∎  (of style) contorted and difficult to understand: crabbed legal language. 2. ill-humored. DERIVATIVES: crab·bed·ly adv. crab·bed·ness n.

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crabbed †froward, wayward XIII; out of humour; †harsh, rugged XIV; difficult to deal with or make sense of; cross-tempered XVI. f. CRAB 1 + -ED 2, with orig. ref. to the gait and habits of the crab, which suggest cross-grained or fractious disposition. There has been later assoc. with CRAB 2 with connotation of sourness.