November 17, 2011
- rankle (verb)
- What does it mean?
- : to cause anger, irritation, or deep bitterness
- How do you use it?
- The decision by the referee rankled fans who saw the play and knew it was a bad call.
- Are you a word wiz?
"Rankle" developed from the name of an imaginary creature. Which fanciful being do you think inspired "rankle"?"Rankle" traces to the Greek "drakon," meaning "serpent, dragon." Latin speakers borrowed "drakon" as "draco" and used it as the basis for "dracunculus," which means "little serpent." French speakers respelled "dracunculus" as "draoncle" or "raoncle," but they gave it a new meaning: "festering (rotting or infected) sore." (Maybe those sores looked like a dragon or made people think of dragon bites!) The French verb "rancler," meaning "to fester," developed from the noun. English speakers adopted the French verb but spelled it "rankle." By the way, the word "dragon" also traces to the Greek "drakon."