• synonyms


verb (used without object), ran·kled, ran·kling.
  1. (of unpleasant feelings, experiences, etc.) to continue to cause keen irritation or bitter resentment within the mind; fester; be painful.
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verb (used with object), ran·kled, ran·kling.
  1. to cause keen irritation or bitter resentment in: His colleague's harsh criticism rankled him for days.
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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 formsran·kling·ly, adverbun·ran·kled, adjective


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

embitter, exasperate, inflame, bother, harass, vex, hurt, gall, rile, irk, torment, anger, chafe, fester, aggravate, pain, pester, nettle, plague, mortify

Examples from the Web for rankled

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

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


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • After that more than ever rankled the memory of that first morning.

  • That same book,—how it rankled, like a barbed arrow, in his side!

    Tony Butler

    Charles James Lever

  • The thought that a man whom he had befriended was opposing him rankled deeply.

    Rodney, the Ranger

    John V. Lane

  • She could not apologise to him after hearing the accusation which rankled in his bosom.

    Kept in the Dark

    Anthony Trollope

British Dictionary definitions for rankled


  1. (intr) to cause severe and continuous irritation, anger, or bitterness; festerhis failure to win still rankles
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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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper