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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for cantankerousness
Historical Examples
  • They felt that Keith, for all his "cantankerousness," might be right.

    The Calico Cat Charles Miner Thompson
  • In the partial stupors it is seen as active opposition and cantankerousness.

    Benign Stupors August Hoch
  • Naturally it is only in the minor stupors that we see it in well-developed form as active opposition and cantankerousness.

    Benign Stupors August Hoch
  • Thoreau with all his cantankerousness came nearer to the new literature.

    In Pastures Green Peter McArthur
  • It was like the emancipation of the slaves, and the whole of Scotch cantankerousness came to a height.

  • I suppose it's what Papa used to call his "originality," and Mamma his "cantankerousness," coming out in me.

    My Friend the Chauffeur C. N. Williamson and A. M. Williamson
British Dictionary definitions for cantankerousness


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 cantankerousness



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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