The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is cantankerous. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.
What It Means
A cantankerous person is often angry and annoyed. Cantankerous also means “difficult or irritating to deal with.”
// Several sportswriters cited the coach’s cantankerous personality as a reason for the team’s poor performance and lack of motivation.
CANTANKEROUS in Context
“The episode centers around the Daffodil Ball, a magnificent cow, and a cantankerous pig. I would also be cantankerous if veterinarians who hadn’t even passed their exams were chasing me around with a scalpel.” — Alice Burton, Vulture, 16 Jan. 2022
Did You Know?
Cantankerous people are cranky: they’re grumpy and angry and if we think charitably about them for a moment we might consider that they possibly suffer from a health affliction that sours the mood. It’s been speculated that cantankerous is a product of the Middle English contack, meaning “contention,” under the influence of a pair of words: rancorous and cankerous. Rancorous brings the anger and “bitter deep-seated ill will” (as rancor can be understood to mean). And cankerous brings the perhaps understandable foul mood: a cankerous person suffers from painful sores—that is, cankers.