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

Synonyms for rankle


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The Connection Between Rankle and Dragon

When rankle was first used in English, it meant "to fester," and that meaning is related to French words referring to a sore and tracing to Latin dracunculus. The Latin is from draco, the word for a serpent and the source of English's dragon. The transition from serpents to sores is apparently from people associating the appearance of certain ulcers or tumors to 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 Often the scorn only intensifies, while obsequious apologies to Beijing can rankle Western consumers. Elisabeth Braw, WSJ, 24 July 2022 But instead of sending its lawyers to rankle museum directors, Mexico is leading with a social-media campaign designed to persuade buyers that sales of antiquities are unethical. Robert P. Walzer, WSJ, 30 July 2022 As head of global sustainable finance for Fitch Ratings, Andrew Steel is a key arbitrator of this debate, with views likely to rankle both ESG true believers and haters. Laurence Darmientostaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 6 May 2022 Imagine those views … Has to rankle NHL execs that one of the sights most often seen during playoff commercial breaks is winking NFL quarterback Matthew Stafford. Matt Porter, BostonGlobe.com, 28 May 2022 But that language could rankle Pacific leaders, said Tess Newton Cain, a Pacific analyst at Griffith University in Brisbane. Michael E. Miller, Washington Post, 26 May 2022 Biden is also requesting $773 billion for the Defense Department, which will likely rankle progressives in Congress. Grace Segers, The New Republic, 28 Mar. 2022 While the new system may rankle some people who are used to driving freely along the Historic Columbia River Highway, the Oregon Department of Transportation said the permits will ultimately create a more enjoyable experience. oregonlive, 22 Feb. 2022 The suggestion that the first President Bush was some elitist patrician who didn’t know his way around a modern grocery store continues to rankle Barr three decades later. New York Times, 27 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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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rank of a determinant

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Last Updated

13 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Rankle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rankle. Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for rankle


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

Kids Definition of rankle

: to cause anger, irritation, or bitterness

More from Merriam-Webster on rankle

Nglish: Translation of rankle for Spanish Speakers


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