Borrowed from Latin cancer (“crab”), by metathesis from Ancient Greek καρκίνος (karkínos, “crab”); applied to cancerous tumors because the enlarged veins resembled the legs of a crab. Doublet of canker and chancre.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈkænsə/
- (General Australian) IPA(key): /ˈkæːnsə/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈkænsɚ/
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- Rhymes: -ænsə(ɹ)
- (medicine, oncology) A disease in which the cells of a tissue undergo uncontrolled (and often rapid) proliferation.
- 2013 June 22, “Snakes and ladders”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8841, page 76:
- Risk is everywhere. From tabloid headlines insisting that coffee causes cancer (yesterday, of course, it cured it) to stern government warnings about alcohol and driving, the world is teeming with goblins. For each one there is a frighteningly precise measurement of just how likely it is to jump from the shadows and get you.
- (figuratively) Something damaging that spreads throughout something else.
- 1999, Bruce Clifford Ross-Larson, Effective Writing, page 134:
- Sierra Leone's post-dictator problems are almost absurd in their breadth. It once exported rice; now it can't feed itself. The life span of the average citizen is 39, the shortest in Africa. Unemployment stands at 87 percent and tuberculosis is spreading out of control. Corruption, brazen and ubiquitous, is a cancer on the economy.
- cancer at OneLook Dictionary Search
- cancer in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.
cancer c (singular definite canceren, not used in plural form)
cancer m (plural cancers)
- “cancer” in le Trésor de la langue française informatisé (The Digitized Treasury of the French Language).
From Proto-Italic *kankros, dissimilation of Proto-Italic *karkros (“enclosure”) (because the pincers of a crab form a circle), from Proto-Indo-European *kr-kr- (“circular”), reduplication of Proto-Indo-European *(s)ker- (“to turn, bend”) in the sense of "enclosure". Cognate with Latin carcer and curvus.
Second declension, nominative singular in -er.
- → Asturian: cáncer
- → Catalan: càncer
- → English: cancer
- → French: cancer, cancre
- → Italian: cancro, granchio (through dative or diminutive)
- → Middle Dutch: canker
- → Norman: cancèr
- → Occitan: càncer
- → Old English: cancer
- Old French: chancre
- Old Occitan: [Term?]
From the diminutive cancriculus:
- cancer in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
- cancer in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
- cancer in The Perseus Project (1999) Perseus Encyclopedia
cancer n (plural cancere)
- Until circa 1970, the word kräfta was also used.
|Declension of cancer|