- To rankle is to cause someone to have long-lasting annoyance, anger or irritation.
When you say something to someone that you know will cause upset and anger, this is an example of a time when you rankle someone.
rankle definition by Webster's New World
- Obsolete to fester; become or make inflamed
- to cause or cause to have long-lasting anger, rancor, resentment, etc.: their indifference rankled him
Origin: Middle English ranclen ; from Old French rancler ; from raoncle, draoncle, a fester, ulcer ; from Midieval Latin dracunculus ; from Classical Latin diminutive of draco, dragon
rankle definition by American Heritage Dictionary
verb ran·kled, ran·kling, ran·kles verb, intransitive
- To cause persistent irritation or resentment.
- To become sore or inflamed; fester.
Origin: Middle English ranclen, from Old French rancler, alteration of draoncler, from draoncle, festering sore, from Latin dracunculus, diminutive of dracō, dracōn-, serpent; see Dragon .Word History: A persistent resentment, a festering sore, and a little snake are all coiled together in the history of the word rankle. “A little snake” is the sense of the Latin word dracunculus to which rankle can be traced, dracunculus being a diminutive of dracō, “snake.” The Latin word passed into Old French, as draoncle, having probably already developed the sense “festering sore,” because some of these sores resembled little snakes in their shape or bite. The verb draoncler, “to fester,” was then formed in Old French. The noun and verb developed alternate forms without the d-, and both were borrowed into Middle English, the noun rancle being recorded in a work written around 1190, the verb ranclen, in a work probably composed about 1300. Both words had literal senses having to do with festering sores. The noun is not recorded after the 16th century, but the verb went on to develop the figurative senses having to do with resentment and bitterness with which we are all too familiar.