- The definition of cantankerous is someone who is bad tempered, grumpy or looking for an argument.
An example of cantankerous is a grumpy old man who lives on your street who is always watching the neighborhood kids to find something to yell at them about.
cantankerous definition by Webster's New World
Origin: probably ; from Middle English contakour, troublemaker (; from Anglo-French ; from contec, discord) plush -ous
cantankerous definition by American Heritage Dictionary
- Ill-tempered and quarrelsome; disagreeable: disliked her cantankerous landlord.
- Difficult to handle: “had to use liquid helium, which is supercold, costly and cantankerous” (Boston Globe).
Origin: Perhaps from Middle English contek, dissension (influenced by such words as rancorous and cankerous), from Anglo-Norman contec, possibly from Latin contāctus, past participle of contingere, to touch; see contact.
- can·tanˈker·ous·ly adverb
- can·tanˈker·ous·ness noun