\ \ [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 contekourbrawler’, from contekstrife’, a borrowing from an unrecorded Anglo-Norman *contek, but an Irish origin has also been suggested, perhaps from Irish cannránstrife, grumbling’ (another early user of the word was the Irish playwright Thomas Sheridan).

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.


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

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