A Word A Day : Cantankerous

Wednesday, 16th January 2008 : Today's Word is ...


( Adjective )

Pronunciation : kan-táng-ker-ess

1. easily angered and difficult to get along with

2. difficult to work with or use ( informal )

3. disagreeable to deal with, stubbornly obstructive and unwilling to cooperate

4. ill-tempered and quarrelsome; disagreeable


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


bad-tempered, bearish, bitchy, captious, choleric, contrary, cranky, critical, cross, crotchety, crusty, difficult, disagreeable, dour, grouchy, grumpy, huffy, ill-humored, ill-natured, irascible, irritable, morose, obstinate, ornery, peevish, perverse, petulant, prickly, quarrelsome, snappish, sour, stuffy, testy, vinegarish, vinegary, wrinkly


cheerful, easygoing, good-humored, good-natured, happy, nice, pleasant

Contextual Examples:

• She disliked her cantankerous landlord.

• She made it more difficult for him by adopting a cantankerous tone.

• As a Pressman, I felt sure from what I had been told that I could never hope to get into touch with this cantankerous Professor.

Related Words:

cantankerously : Adverb

cantankerousness : Noun

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