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[kan-tang-ker-uh s] /kænˈtæŋ kər əs/
disagreeable to deal with; contentious; peevish:
a cantankerous, argumentative man.
Origin of cantankerous
1765-75; perhaps variant of earlier *contenkerous, reflecting contentious, rancorous
Related forms
cantankerously, adverb
cantankerousness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cantankerous
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The cantankerous old lady knitted her brows in a familiar fashion.

  • "Well, of all cantankerous cranks he is the worst," he would say with a sigh.

  • It's quite true that the people round here—your sort of people, I mean—are a cantankerous lot.

    The Graftons Archibald Marshall
  • You must have thought me cantankerous, and so I have been sometimes, but always by conviction and on principle.

    The Christian Hall Caine
  • Perhaps it was a good thing that her cantankerous old uncle had betaken himself off.

    From Out the Vasty Deep Mrs. Belloc Lowndes
British Dictionary definitions for cantankerous


quarrelsome; irascible
Derived Forms
cantankerously, adverb
cantankerousness, noun
Word Origin
C18: perhaps from C14 (obsolete) conteckour a contentious person, from conteck strife, from Anglo-French contek, of obscure origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cantankerous

1772, said to be "a Wiltshire word," probably from an alteration (influenced by raucous) of Middle English contakour "troublemaker" (c.1300), from Anglo-French contec "discord, strife," from Old French contechier (Old North French contekier), from con- "with" + teche, related to atachier "hold fast" (see attach). With -ous. Related: Cantankerously; cantankerousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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