cantankerous was our Word of the Day on 01/15/2017. Hear the podcast!
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Examples of cantankerous in a Sentence
- Contemporaries often found him aloof, standoffish, and cantankerous and his mannerisms and diction inscrutable. —Jonathan Spence, New York Review of Books, 22 Oct. 2009
- There are those who contend the hockey maven is a cantankerous old coot—rife with unpopular opinions and quick to assert them —Rick Harrison, Newsday, 19 Sept. 2004
- … it's something ultimately more memorable: a self-portrait of a coolly cantankerous woman, reformed but unrepentant. —David Gates, New York Times Book Review, 21 Nov. 1999
- In his last years, Harriman was the kind of cantankerous old man who once berated a financial planner by threatening to make him sit in the corner and wear a dunce cap. —Bryan Burrough, Vanity Fair, January 1995
a cantankerous old woman who insisted that nothing should ever be allowed to change
Recent Examples of cantankerous from the Web
Rollie Massimino was cantankerous, crusty and usually looked like this picture.
But John Yates Bell, the cantankerous son of Joe’s former master, has other plans for the girl.
Some get frustrated with their condition and can become cantankerous and even mean spirited.
Loudermilk (AT&T/Audience Network) Ron Livingston plays a cantankerous recovering alcoholic and substance abuse counselor in this new series from Peter Farrelly and The Colbert Report's Bobby Mort.
But this was just the beginning of a long, cantankerous journey.
Hollywood legend Lansbury tackles the role of cantankerous Aunt March.
Instead, the famously cantankerous President is laying low as his Republican colleagues in the Senate work furiously to strike a deal on a bill to repeal Obamacare.
Cantankerous and completely unable to handle a smart, savvy, attractive black woman being a peer in the good-old-boys club of the US Senate.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cantankerous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
The Origin of cantankerous Is Mysterious
It's irritating, but we're not absolutely sure where "cantankerous" comes from. Etymologists think it probably derived from the Middle English word contack (or "contek"), which meant "contention" or "strife." Their idea is that "cantankerous" may have started out as "contackerous" but was later modified as a result of association or confusion with "rancorous" (meaning "spiteful") and "cankerous" (which describes something that spreads corruption of the mind or spirit). Considering that a cantankerous person generally has the spite associated with "contack" and "rancor," and the noxious and sometimes painful effects of a "canker," that theory seems plausible. What we can say with conviction is that "cantankerous" has been used in English since at least the late 1700s.
Origin and Etymology of cantankerous
First Known Use: 1772See Words from the same year
Synonymsacid, bearish, bilious, bloody-minded [chiefly British], ill–tempered, disagreeable, dyspeptic, ill-humored, ill-natured, ornery, splenetic, surly
Antonymsamiable, good-humored, good-natured, good-tempered
Related Wordscholeric, crabby, cranky, crotchety, fussy, grouchy, grumpy, querulous; irascible, irritable, peevish, peppery, petulant, quick-tempered, short-tempered, snappish, snippy, testy, touchy; argumentative, contentious, contrary, cussed; angry, exasperated, indignant, irate, mad, upset, uptight; depressed, dour, glum, morose, sullen; anal, old-maidish, schoolmarmish
Near Antonymsagreeable, amicable, congenial, friendly, pleasant; benign, gentle, kind, nice, sweet; bubbly, cheerful, cheery, effervescent, exuberant, high-spirited, joyful, lighthearted, lively, vivacious; content, glad, happy; calm, placid, serene; long-suffering, patient, tolerant
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