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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for rankles
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It rankles in my heart, and unless I can be revenged I shall sink under it.

    Vivian Grey Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli
  • The king has suffered; it rankles in his mind; and he will avenge himself.

    The Man in the Iron Mask Alexandre Dumas, Pere
  • That's it; it's because I'm afraid that he would lick me that it rankles so.

    The Eternal Boy Owen Johnson
  • It rankles occasionally to this day, though he is now a stout lad of fifteen.

    Just Sixteen. Susan Coolidge
  • No feeling so rankles in the mind as the sense of uncompensated labor.

    The Itching Palm William R Scott
  • Your mother detests you; you made her a fierce reply which rankles, and which will be your ruin.

    Albert Savarus Honore de Balzac
  • As those over Etna who slumber, and under them rankles the fire.

    The Visions of England Francis T. Palgrave
British Dictionary definitions for rankles


(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 rankles



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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