a gangrenous or ulcerous sore, especially in the mouth.
a disease affecting horses' feet, usually the soles, characterized by a foul-smelling exudate.
a defined area of diseased tissue, especially in woody stems.
something that corrodes, corrupts, destroys, or irritates.
Also called canker rose. British Dialect, dog rose.
verb (used with object)
to infect with canker.
to corrupt; destroy slowly.
verb (used without object)
to become infected with or as if with canker.

before 1000; Middle English; Old English cancer < Latin cancer; see cancer

4. blight, cancer, scourge. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
canker (ˈkæŋkə)
1.  an ulceration, esp of the lips or lining of the oral cavity
2.  vet science
 a.  a disease of horses in which the horn of the hoofs becomes soft and spongy
 b.  an inflammation of the lining of the external ear, esp in dogs and cats, resulting in a discharge and sometimes ulceration
 c.  ulceration or abscess of the mouth, eyelids, ears, or cloaca of birds
3.  an open wound in the stem of a tree or shrub, caused by injury or parasites
4.  something evil that spreads and corrupts
5.  to infect or become infected with or as if with canker
[Old English cancer, from Latin cancer crab, cancerous sore]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. cancer, from L. cancer (see cancer); influenced in M.E. by O.N.Fr. cancre (Mod.Fr. chancre). The word was the common one for "cancer" until c.1700. Canker blossom is recorded from 1580s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

canker can·ker (kāng'kər)

  1. Ulceration of the mouth and lips.

  2. An acute inflammation or infection of the ear and auditory canal, especially in dogs and cats.

  3. Cancrum.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Bible Dictionary

Canker definition

a gangrene or mortification which gradually spreads over the whole body (2 Tim. 2:17). In James 5:3 "cankered" means "rusted" (R.V.) or tarnished.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Encyclopedia Britannica


disease of plants that is caused by numerous species of fungi and bacteria. Symptoms include round-to-irregular, sunken, swollen, flattened, or cracked, discoloured, and dead areas on the stem (cane), twig, limb, or trunk. Cankers may enlarge and girdle a twig or branch, killing the foliage beyond it. They are most common on plants weakened by mechanical, winter, or insect injury; drought; nutritional imbalances; nematodes; and root rot.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Citrus canker is a bacterial disease that causes lesions on the leaves, stems, and fruit of citrus trees.
Citrus canker is a highly contagious disease caused by a bacterium infecting only plants in the citrus family.
The purpose of this study is to examine how compounds produced in patients with canker sores affect wound healing.
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