Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[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. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for rankle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The blade is poisoned, dear, and the wound will rankle for a lifetime.'

    Despair's Last Journey David Christie Murray
  • Take a look at it now, if you will, for hereafter we'll let it bide and rankle as it must.

    Nicanor - Teller of Tales C. Bryson Taylor
  • Sir Cæsar, too, had (all unwittingly) planted an arrow and left it to rankle.

    Major Vigoureux A. T. Quiller-Couch
  • Do you suppose she left that poison to rankle in the tender soul of her darling?

    Over the Teacups Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  • There is no sting to rankle, now that hope—hope for my boy—has gone.

    Shining Ferry

    Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
  • He has driven the arrow deep into her heart, and leaves it to rankle there.

    The Death Shot Mayne Reid
  • With a morbid feeling of injured honour, he allowed it to rankle in his bosom.

    Salt Water W. H. G. Kingston
  • But he had said that which had been in his mind to say, and he was satisfied to know that it was left to rankle.

    The Adventure of Princess Sylvia Mrs. C. N. Williamson
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
Cite This Source
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
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for rankle

Word Value for rankle

Scrabble Words With Friends