Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Dander

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is dander. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Dander is a synonym of dandruff and is also used to refer to anger or temper, especially in the phrase “get someone’s dander up.”

// Some people are allergic to pet dander.

// The customer’s disrespectful attitude got the waitstaff’s dander up.

DANDER in Context

“Unlike traditional vacuum cleaners made to handle a wider range of different messes, these next-level vacuums for pet hair are engineered to sweep away all of the stubborn pet fur…, allowing you to quickly de-fuzz your stuff and keep dander under control.” — Korin Miller, The Daily Beast, 8 Apr. 2022

Did You Know?

How did dander acquire its “temper” sense? There are several theories, though the evidence is inconclusive. It has been proposed that the meaning comes from the image of an angry person tearing out their hair by the fistful, scattering dandruff in the process. Some think it comes from a West Indian word dander, which refers to a kind of ferment and suggests “rising” anger (in English, ferment can mean “a state of unrest or excitement”). Others have suggested that the “anger” sense comes from the Dutch phrase op donderen, meaning “to burst into a sudden rage.”

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