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noun can·ker \ˈkaŋ-kər\

Simple Definition of canker

  • : something that causes bad things to happen

  • : any of various plant diseases

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of canker

  1. 1 a (1) :  an erosive or spreading sore (2) :  an area of necrosis in a plant; also :  a plant disease characterized by cankers b :  any of various disorders of animals marked by chronic inflammatory changes

  2. 2 archaic :  a caterpillar destructive to plants

  3. 3 chiefly dialect :  rust 1

  4. 4 :  a source of corruption or debasement

  5. 5 chiefly dialect :  dog rose

cankerous play \ˈkaŋ-k(ə-)rəs\ adjective

Origin of canker

Middle English, from Anglo-French cancre, chancre, from Latin cancer crab, cancer

First Known Use: before 12th century



verb can·ker

Definition of canker

cankeredcankering play \ˈkaŋ-k(ə-)riŋ\

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 obsolete :  to infect with a spreading sore

  3. 2 :  to corrupt the spirit of

  4. intransitive verb
  5. 1 :  to become infested with canker

  6. 2 :  to become corrupted

Examples of canker in a sentence

  1. <such shameless ambulance chasing cankers the legal profession>

Did You Know?

Canker is commonly known as the name for a type of spreading sore that eats into the tissue-a use that obviously furnished the verb with both its medical and figurative senses. The word ultimately traces back to Latin cancer, which can refer to a crab or a malignant tumor. The Greeks have a similar word, "karkinos," and according to the Ancient Greek physician Galen the tumor got its name from the way the swollen veins surrounding the affected part resembled a crab's limbs. "Cancer" was adopted into Old English, becoming "canker" in Middle English and eventually shifting in meaning to become a general term for ulcerations. "Cancer" itself was reintroduced to English later, first as a zodiacal word and then as a medical term.

14th Century

First Known Use of canker

14th century

Medical Dictionary


noun can·ker \ˈkaŋ-kər\

Medical Definition of canker

  1. 1a (1):  an erosive or spreading sore (2)obsolete :  gangreneb:  canker sore

  2. 2a:  a chronic inflammation of the ear in dogs, cats, or rabbits; especially :  a localized form of mangeb:  a chronic and progressive inflammation of the deep horn-producing tissues of the frog and sole of the hooves of horses resulting in softening and destruction of the horny layers

Seen and Heard

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to expose to danger or risk

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