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

Supervisor Hillary Ronen, a co-sponsor of the ordinance, was rankled Tuesday at the idea of postponing the measure to March. Trisha Thadani, SFChronicle.com, "SF supes reject plan to add homelessness department oversight to November ballot," 23 July 2019 And even if none of that were the case, the move rankles on principle alone. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "Microsoft's Ebook Apocalypse Shows the Dark Side of DRM," 30 June 2019 The idea of eliminating this longstanding practice rankles many students and parents across the country. Talia Richman, baltimoresun.com, "Maryland districts join national trend in eliminating class rank," 27 June 2019 This no doubt rankles those who prefer maximum localism and diversity within Congress. Jay Cost, National Review, "Restoring Congress: The Parties Are a Solution," 17 June 2019 Generally, the organization does not want to rankle dues-paying members. Diana Budds, Curbed, "Inside the AIA’s efforts to address #MeToo," 5 Aug. 2019 The decision to move the institution previously rankled some community members who did not want the district to use school bond money from Proposition Z to pay for the Kearny Mesa property. Jennifer Van Grove, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Why these Scripps Ranch apartments will rent for under $1,000 a month," 25 June 2019 Saudi Arabia, which long reigned supreme in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, rankled some members by bringing in nonmember Russia to make output cuts effective. ... Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "In Russia, Agreement Breaks You," 5 Feb. 2019 The eccentric 60-year-old, who has rankled the club’s top officials by refusing to quit smoking despite the diagnosis, has reportedly been feeling better and has been eyeing a return to the coach’s box. Si Wire, SI.com, "Juventus vs. Napoli Live Stream, TV Channel: Watch Serie A Online," 31 Aug. 2019

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

2 Oct 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

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