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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
  • He could be cantankerous and rude, yet hated to be embarrassed.
  • Wayne Morse is as good a definition of the word "maverick" as can be found, cantankerous, erratic but stoutly independent too.
  • She's 25, an aspiring singer and as open-hearted and accepting as Roger is cantankerous and edgy.
  • Think the worst seatmate you could have on a cross-country flight is an irrational, cantankerous drunk? Think again.
  • Bach, in spite of his cantankerous pride, wrote priceless music.
  • The stuporous came alive, the cantankerous calmed down.
  • Then he gave signs of degenerating into a pesky, cantankerous old fluff with a disposition as vile as that of a wolverine.
  • I'd like to think that the cantankerous Twain would welcome the company.
  • The oboe can be a cantankerous, fiery instrument or one that sings with a graceful lilt.
  • Last week, a cantankerous witness scowled at the judge's perpetual bemused smile.
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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