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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. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for rankled
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He rankled at the thought of this boy setting himself up as judge.

  • But, nevertheless, it was probably his other sin that rankled deepest in her mind.

    The Bertrams Anthony Trollope
  • It was the detection of the plumage that rankled in her soul.

    The Mountebank William J. Locke
  • The thing that rankled and filled him with a sense of failure was Max Wilson's attitude.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • The sting of Billy's words yet rankled, and perhaps I was not so grateful to the little wretch as he deserved.

    The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark
British Dictionary definitions for rankled


(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 rankled



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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