[kan-tang-ker-uh s]


disagreeable to deal with; contentious; peevish: a cantankerous, argumentative man.

Origin of cantankerous

1765–75; perhaps variant of earlier *contenkerous, reflecting contentious, rancorous
Related formscan·tan·ker·ous·ly, adverbcan·tan·ker·ous·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cantankerousness

Historical Examples of cantankerousness

  • 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.

British Dictionary definitions for cantankerousness



quarrelsome; irascible
Derived Formscantankerously, adverbcantankerousness, noun

Word Origin for cantankerous

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

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