The origin of curmudgeon is not known for certain, although etymologist Anatoly Liberman provides a reasonable explanation. What we do know for certain is that the earliest known use of the word can be found in Richard Stanyhurst’s A Treatise Contayning a Playne and Perfect Description of Irelande, which appears in the 1577 edition of Holinshed’s Chronicles (the OED cites the second, 1587, edition, but it also appears in the earlier one). The passage in question describes the reasons why a certain Lady Elenor should take up with a suitor by the name of Odoneil who was “so butcherly a cuttbrote”:

the feare of his [her nephew’s] daunger mooued hir to annere to such a clownish Curmudgen

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