Perhaps derived from earlier contenkerous, from contentious + rancorous.


  • IPA(key): /kænˈtæŋkəɹəs/, /kənˈtæŋkəɹəs/
  • (file)


cantankerous ‎(comparative more cantankerous, superlative most cantankerous)

  1. given to or marked by an ill-tempered nature, ill-tempered, cranky, surly, crabby.
    • 1839, Fraser's magazine for town and country, Volume 20, p618
      she is a cantankerous old maid fretting and snarling over the loss of her beauty.
    • 1866 Every Saturday, Volume 2, p355
      The great principle on which the privileges of cantankerous folly and ill-nature found is this: that as we go on through life we grow somewhat cowardly; and if a thing be disagreeable, we just keep out of its way: sometimes by rather shabby expedients.
    • 1947, John Courtenay Trewin, Plays of the year: Volume 47, 195
      I am being cantankerous. Some days I feel so cantankerous I could take a machine-gun into the streets and shoot down the whole population of Hendon Central; I don't know why.
    • 1998, Pauline Chazan, The moral self, 80
      By contrast, cantankerous and churlish people are contemptuously independent of others’ opinions, not caring enough about others and their views.
    • 2004, 386 F. 3d 192 - Jacques v. Dimarzio Inc
      The cantankerous are those "marked by ill humor, irritability, and determination to disagree." Webster's New International Dictionary 328 (3d ed.1986).
    • 2004, 386 F. 3d 192 - Jacques v. Dimarzio Inc
      All things being equal, a cantankerous person or a curmudgeon would be more secure by becoming more unpleasant.
    • 2007, Linda Francis Lee, The Devil in the Junior League, p44
      Nina was thrilled, muttering her cantankerous joy that I was getting out of the house.
    • from where is this quotation?
      The cantankerous landlord always grumbled when asked to fix something.
    • 2010, Clare Vanderpool, Moon Over Manifest
      Unfortunately, as Great-Aunt Bert could be a bit cantankerous, they were having to be creative

Note: Cantankerous is generally used to describe an unpleasant elderly person in a slightly pejorative manner. However, the term can be used to people in general, livestock, and machinery as well.



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