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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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The much-vexed question of the Franchise continued to rankle in the hearts of the Uitlanders.

  • There is no sting to rankle, now that hope—hope for my boy—has gone.

    Shining Ferry Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
  • Neither would, for a moment, think of allowing such incidents to rankle in his bosom.

    The Wild Man of the West R.M. Ballantyne
  • He has driven the arrow deep into her heart, and leaves it to rankle there.

    The Death Shot Mayne Reid
  • I am even fearful that it may swell and rankle to an alarming degree inwardly.

  • With a morbid feeling of injured honour, he allowed it to rankle in his bosom.

    Salt Water W. H. G. Kingston
  • And then, above all, there was her presence, her monstrous intrusion to rankle in his mind.

    The Man from Archangel A. Conan Doyle
  • The blade is poisoned, dear, and the wound will rankle for a lifetime.'

    Despair's Last Journey David Christie Murray
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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