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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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 Qaboos’s independence often rankled his more powerful neighbors in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who hoped — in vain — that Oman would fall in line with their regional policies. Ben Hubbard, New York Times, "Sultan Qaboos, Who Built Oman Into a Prosperous Oasis of Peacemaking, Dies at 79," 11 Jan. 2020 Such figures rankle the electric-car evangelists, who argue that clean-air vehicles are unfairly blamed for crowding the lanes. Rachel Swan, SFChronicle.com, "Driving a Tesla in the carpool lane: No longer just a perk for the rich," 31 Dec. 2019 That will rankle, especially because cross-border pollution is part of the problem, says Wim de Vries, who studies nitrogen impacts at Wageningen. Erik Stokstad, Science | AAAS, "Nitrogen crisis from jam-packed livestock operations has ‘paralyzed’ Dutch economy," 4 Dec. 2019 However sensible its starting point, the idea rankled civil-liberty and privacy-minded groups. Wired, "The Real ID Is Nearly Here, and You Can’t Fly Home Without It," 18 Nov. 2019 But even so, a ski area deal unfolding here is rankling Yeaton and some other community leaders. Author: Christopher Rowland, Anchorage Daily News, "Purdue Pharma family profits from sale of resorts in regions plagued by opioid crisis," 30 Sep. 2019 Whitmer's willingness to bypass an unwilling Legislature in favor of her executive powers has rankled Republican leaders during her first year in office. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "Whitmer announces $3.5-billion road bonding plan in State of the State," 29 Jan. 2020 Jimmy Carter had some conservative policies that rankled black leaders at the time. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "How Democratic Candidates Win the African-American Vote," 20 Nov. 2019 The movie’s lead actor, Phoenix, has also been rankled at allegations that the film could be dangerous. The Washington Post, The Denver Post, "“Outrage is a commodity”: Director Todd Phillips bashes “far left” criticism of “Joker”," 26 Sep. 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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Time Traveler for rankle

Time Traveler

The first known use of rankle was in 1606

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Statistics for rankle

Last Updated

20 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Rankle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rankle. Accessed 27 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for rankle


How to pronounce rankle (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rankle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rankle

Spanish Central: Translation of rankle

Nglish: Translation of rankle for Spanish Speakers

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