[18] Cantankerous is a rather mysterious word. It first appears in the 1770s, and the earliest known reference to it is in Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer 1772: ‘There’s not a more bitter cantanckerous road in all christendom’. Its origin is disputed: perhaps the likeliest source is Middle English contekour ‘brawler’, from contek ‘strife’, a borrowing from an unrecorded Anglo-Norman *contek, but an Irish origin has also been suggested, perhaps from Irish cannrán ‘strife, grumbling’ (another early user of the word was the Irish playwright Thomas Sheridan).

The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins. 2013.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cantankerous — Can*tan ker*ous, a. Perverse; contentious; ugly; malicious. [Colloq.] {Can*tan ker*ous*ly}, adv. {Can*tan ker*ous*ness}, n. [1913 Webster] The cantankerous old maiden aunt. Thackeray. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cantankerous — index contentious, fractious, froward, hostile, inflexible, negative, perverse, petulant, restive …   Law dictionary

  • cantankerous — 1772, said to be a Wiltshire word, probably an alteration (influenced by raucous) of M.E. contakour troublemaker (c.1300), from Anglo Fr. contec discord, strife, from O.Fr. contechier, from con with + teche, related to atachier hold fast (see… …   Etymology dictionary

  • cantankerous — [adj] difficult, crabby badtempered, bearish, captious, choleric, contrary, cranky, critical, cross, crotchety*, crusty*, disagreeable, dour, grouchy*, grumpy*, huffy*, ill humored, ill natured, irascible, irritable, morose, obstinate, ornery*,… …   New thesaurus

  • cantankerous — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ bad tempered, argumentative, and uncooperative. DERIVATIVES cantankerously adverb cantankerousness noun. ORIGIN perhaps a blend of Anglo Irish cant «auction» and rancorous …   English terms dictionary

  • cantankerous — [kan taŋ′kər əs] adj. [prob. < ME contakour, troublemaker (< Anglo Fr < contec, discord) + OUS] bad tempered; quarrelsome cantankerously adv. cantankerousness n …   English World dictionary

  • cantankerous — [[t]kæntæ̱ŋkərəs[/t]] ADJ GRADED: usu ADJ n Someone who is cantankerous is always finding things to argue or complain about. [WRITTEN] ...a cantankerous old man …   English dictionary

  • cantankerous — adjective Etymology: perhaps irregular from obsolete contack contention Date: 1772 difficult or irritating to deal with < a cantankerous mule > • cantankerously adverb • cantankerousness noun …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • cantankerous — cantankerously, adv. cantankerousness, n. /kan tang keuhr euhs/, adj. disagreeable to deal with; contentious; peevish: a cantankerous, argumentative man. [1765 75; perh. var. of earlier *contenkerous, reflecting CONTENTIOUS, RANCOROUS] * * * …   Universalium

  • cantankerous — adjective /kænˈtæŋkəɹəs,kənˈtæŋkəɹəs/ Stubborn, bad tempered, cranky, surly, ill humored, irritable. The cantankerous landlord always grumbled when asked to fix something …   Wiktionary

  • cantankerous — can|tan|ker|ous [kænˈtæŋkərəs] adj [Date: 1700 1800; Origin: Perhaps from conteck quarreling (13 17 centuries)] bad tempered and complaining a lot ▪ a cantankerous old man …   Dictionary of contemporary English

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.