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[rang-kuh l] /ˈræŋ kəl/
verb (used without object), rankled, rankling.
(of unpleasant feelings, experiences, etc.) to continue to cause keen irritation or bitter resentment within the mind; fester; be painful.
verb (used with object), rankled, rankling.
to cause keen irritation or bitter resentment in:
His colleague's harsh criticism rankled him for days.
Origin of rankle
1250-1300; Middle English ranclen < Middle French rancler, Old French raoncler, variant of draoncler to fester, derivative of draoncle a sore < Late Latin dracunculus small serpent, diminutive of Latin dracō serpent; see dragon, carbuncle
Related forms
ranklingly, adverb
unrankled, adjective
1, 2. irritate, gall, chafe. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for rankle
  • Few things rankle a doctor more than an insurance company's saying it cannot find a claim for medical services.
  • Many professors rankle at the notion that they should have to worry about it now.
  • Yet their unfair advantages, of money and connections, rankle with honest citizens who never collaborated.
  • Security delays don't rankle unless there are longer waits at some airports than others.
  • It's great to be on the cutting edge, but sometimes those disappearing features rankle.
  • They snap and rankle and connive, honoring only the kinship.
  • The stately gray home has over the last year become the center of a controversy that continues to rankle residents.
  • It tends to rankle religious hardliners, but that's all right.
  • Of all the cost-saving measures he proposed, two seemed to rankle council members the most.
  • In a business that is only casually regulated by copyright laws, the steady proliferation of red-carpet adaptations can rankle.
British Dictionary definitions for rankle


(intransitive) to cause severe and continuous irritation, anger, or bitterness; fester: his failure to win still rankles
Word Origin
C14 ranclen, from Old French draoncler to fester, from draoncle ulcer, from Latin dracunculus small serpent, from dracō serpent; see dragon
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 rankle

c.1300, "to fester," from Old French rancler, earlier raoncler, draoncler "to suppurate, run," from draoncle "abscess, festering sore," from Medieval Latin dracunculus, literally "little dragon," diminutive of Latin draco "serpent, dragon" (see dragon). The notion is of an ulcer caused by a snake's bite. Meaning "cause to fester" is from c.1400. Related: Rankled; rankling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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