1. morally corrupt.
  2. bad-tempered.
  3. (of plants)
    1. destroyed or having portions destroyed by the feeding of a cankerworm.
    2. having a cankerous part; infected with a canker.
  4. ulcerated.

Origin of cankered

late Middle English word dating back to 1375–1425; see origin at canker, -ed3
Related formscan·kered·ly, adverbcan·kered·ness, nounun·can·kered, adjective


  1. a gangrenous or ulcerous sore, especially in the mouth.
  2. a disease affecting horses' feet, usually the soles, characterized by a foul-smelling exudate.
  3. a defined area of diseased tissue, especially in woody stems.
  4. something that corrodes, corrupts, destroys, or irritates.
  5. Also called canker rose. British Dialect. dog rose.
verb (used with object)
  1. to infect with canker.
  2. to corrupt; destroy slowly.
verb (used without object)
  1. to become infected with or as if with canker.

Origin of canker

before 1000; Middle English; Old English cancer < Latin cancer; see cancer

Synonyms for canker Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cankered

Historical Examples of cankered

British Dictionary definitions for cankered


  1. an ulceration, esp of the lips or lining of the oral cavity
  2. vet science
    1. a disease of horses in which the horn of the hoofs becomes soft and spongy
    2. an inflammation of the lining of the external ear, esp in dogs and cats, resulting in a discharge and sometimes ulceration
    3. ulceration or abscess of the mouth, eyelids, ears, or cloaca of birds
  3. an open wound in the stem of a tree or shrub, caused by injury or parasites
  4. something evil that spreads and corrupts
  1. to infect or become infected with or as if with canker

Word Origin for canker

Old English cancer, from Latin cancer crab, cancerous sore
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

Word Origin and History for cankered



late Old English cancer "spreading ulcer, cancerous tumor," from Latin cancer "malignant tumor," literally "crab" (see cancer); influenced in Middle English by Old North French cancre "canker, sore, abscess" (Old French chancre, Modern French chancre). The word was the common one for "cancer" until c.1700. Also used since 15c. of caterpillars and insect larvae that eat plant buds and leaves. As a verb from late 14c. Related: Cankered; cankerous. Canker blossom is recorded from 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cankered in Medicine


  1. Ulceration of the mouth and lips.
  2. An acute inflammation or infection of the ear and auditory canal, especially in dogs and cats.
  3. Cancrum.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.