ran·​kle | \ˈraŋ-kəl \
rankled; rankling\ˈraŋ-​k(ə-​)liŋ \

Definition of rankle 

intransitive verb

1 : to cause anger, irritation, or deep bitterness

2 : to feel anger and irritation

transitive verb

: to cause irritation or bitterness in

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Synonyms for rankle


boil, burn, foam, fume, rage, seethe, sizzle, steam, storm

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The Connection Between Rankle and Dragon

The history of today's word is something of a sore subject. When rankle was first used in English, it meant "to fester," and that meaning is linked to the word's Old French ancestor—the noun raoncle or draoncle, which meant "festering sore." Etymologists think this Old French word was derived from the Latin dracunculus, a diminutive form of draco, which means "serpent" and which is the source of the English word dragon. The transition from serpents to sores apparently occurred because people thought certain ulcers or tumors looked like small serpents.

Examples of rankle in a Sentence

The joke about her family rankled her. that kind of rude treatment from a young person makes me rankle

Recent Examples on the Web

Though Steyer is himself a golden child of corporate America, there are few issues that rankle him more than corporate influence in the corridors of Washington. Rob Haskell, Vogue, "Billionaire Democrat Tom Steyer on Impeaching Trump, Getting Out the Vote, and Winning in 2020," 14 Nov. 2018 Time and time again, the American public has rankled at Trump’s hardline immigration agenda, the GOP’s attempts to cut Medicaid funding and repeal Obamacare, and historically unpopular Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Tara Golshan, Vox, "Why wasn’t the blue wave bigger?," 7 Nov. 2018 Banks say the information lets them better price their research products, but the tracking has rankled some clients who don’t want to be watched. Telis Demos, WSJ, "Wall Street Analysts Are Now Selling More Data, Less Analysis," 7 Nov. 2018 The archaic language has rankled lawmakers and voters for years -- and in November, Coloradans will have the chance to strike the language for good. Andrew O'reilly, Fox News, "Colorado ballot measure would remove 'slavery' from state constitution," 30 July 2018 That rankled some senior officials in the kingdom, according to people familiar with the matter. Tim Higgins, WSJ, "Public Bravado, Private Doubts: Inside the Unraveling of Elon Musk’s Tesla Buyout," 27 Aug. 2018 The moody lighting in another film likewise rankled the denizens of the front office. Longreads, "When the Movies Went West," 15 May 2018 Yet Logan's investment in Westworld has always rankled his father, James Delos, a titan of business. Sandra Upson, WIRED, "Westworld Recap, Season 2 Episode 8: The Great Ghost Nation Mystery," 11 June 2018 The change is likely to rankle some Partners employees who may worry about losing access to certain care providers. Priyanka Dayal Mccluskey, BostonGlobe.com, "Partners HealthCare shifting 100,000 employees, families to company-owned insurer," 27 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rankle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of rankle

1606, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for rankle

Middle English ranclen to fester, from Anglo-French rancler, from Old French draoncler, raoncler, from draoncle, raoncle festering sore, from Medieval Latin dracunculus, from Latin, diminutive of draco serpent — more at dragon

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Statistics for rankle

Last Updated

11 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rankle

The first known use of rankle was in 1606

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More Definitions for rankle



English Language Learners Definition of rankle

: to cause (someone) to feel angry or irritated especially for a long time


ran·​kle | \ˈraŋ-kəl \
rankled; rankling

Kids Definition of rankle

: to cause anger, irritation, or bitterness

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More from Merriam-Webster on rankle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rankle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rankle

Spanish Central: Translation of rankle

Nglish: Translation of rankle for Spanish Speakers

Comments on rankle

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the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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