Definition of canker
1a (1) : an erosive or spreading sore (2) : an area of necrosis in a plant; also : a plant disease characterized by cankers Citrus canker is caused by bacteria.b : any of various disorders of animals marked by chronic inflammatory changes
2 archaic : a caterpillar destructive to plants
3 chiefly dialectal : rust 1
4 : a source of corruption or debasement suspicion is a canker that … will consume and waste all love — R. Sibbes
5 chiefly dialectal : dog rose
cankerousplay \ˈkaŋ-k(ə-)rəs\ adjective
canker was our Word of the Day on 05/22/2013. Hear the podcast!
Origin and Etymology of canker
Middle English, from Anglo-French cancre, chancre, from Latin cancer crab, cancer
First Known Use: before 12th centurySee Words from the same year
Definition of canker
1 obsolete : to infect with a spreading sore
2 : to corrupt the spirit of a relationship cankered by jealousy
1 : to become infested with canker
2 : to become corrupted
Examples of canker in a Sentence
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.
CANKER Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of canker for English Language Learners
: something that causes bad things to happen
: any of various plant diseases
Medical Definition of canker
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
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