ran·​kle | \ ˈraŋ-kəl How to pronounce rankle (audio) \
rankled; rankling\ ˈraŋ-​k(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce rankling (audio) \

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

But this decision is still likely to rankle Android users. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "Apple leaves Android users with few alternatives as Texture is earmarked for May 28 shutdown," 29 Mar. 2019 But the term is one that rankles many who work in education and development. Saumya Vaishampayan, WSJ, "World Bank Aims to Shame With ‘Human Capital’ Ranking," 11 Oct. 2018 That power rankles in Tehran, Beijing, Moscow, Brussels and elsewhere. Saumya Vaishampayan, WSJ, "Dominant Dollar Bests Challengers," 20 Jan. 2019 Biden's decision to publicly back Cuomo will rankle the progressive activists who have largely coalesced around Nixon, but his message for the more moderate crowd on Long Island seemed torn from the pages of a national campaign speech. Gregory Krieg And Sonia Moghe, CNN, "Is Joe Biden running for president? Because he sure sounded like it today," 24 May 2018 That rankled some at NASA’s highest levels and prompted the agency to take a close look at the culture of the companies, the people said. Christian Davenport, The Seattle Times, "NASA to launch safety review of SpaceX and Boeing," 20 Nov. 2018 While the appearance of scooters scattered everywhere has rankled city officials and residents, these services offer an in-between alternative between walking and hailing a car. Daisuke Wakabayashi, New York Times, "A Taste of Lime: Uber Invests in an Electric Scooter Company," 9 July 2018 Belgian citizens gather in a Brussels park every day to arrange housing and food for 500 migrants, a massive effort that has rankled authorities. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Red-state Democratic senator highlights bills signed by Trump in first reelection ad," 12 Mar. 2018 Chipper Jones’ caustic wit and willingness to speak his mind endeared him to the news media but not always to his teammates, and his post-career tweets have rankled some, though not at the level of Curt Schilling. Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY, "Hall of Fame countdown: Chipper Jones a worthy addition to third base fraternity," 21 Jan. 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

26 Jun 2019

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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 How to pronounce rankle (audio) \
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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