1 : dandruff; specifically : minute scales from hair, feathers, or skin that may be allergenic
Farrah liked dogs, but she couldn't own one because she was allergic to pet dander.
"If you had to start a new Western state from scratch and you got to choose a natural landmark that would become its symbol—something that could drive tourism and that you might name the capital city after—would you choose the Great Salt Lake? People get their dander up when I ask things like that." — Jay Evensen, The New York Times, 10 Dec. 2016
Did You Know?
How did dander acquire its "temper" sense? Etymologists have come up with a few possibilities, but nothing is known for sure. Some experts have proposed, tongue-in-cheek, that the meaning stems from the image of an angry person tearing out his or her hair by the fistful, scattering dandruff in the process. Some think it may come from a West Indian word dander, which refers to a kind of ferment and suggests "rising" anger (in English, ferment can mean either "an agent capable of causing fermentation" or "a state of unrest or excitement"). Yet another proposed possibility is that the "anger" sense was imported to America by early Dutch colonists and is from their phrase op donderen, meaning "to burst into a sudden rage."
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