Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day


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Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.



March 9th, 2016

Episode 468 of 689 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 9, 2016 is: rankle \RANK-ul\ verb 1 : to cause anger, irritation, or deep bitterness in 2 : to feel anger and irritation Examples: The ongoing roadwork has begun to rankle local owners who worry that the closed-off streets are hurting their businesses. "That goal should sit well with many neighborhood residents—but it mightranklesome landlords." — Avery Wilks and Sarah Ellis, The State (Columbia, South Carolina), 26 Sept. 2015 Did you know? The history of today's word is something of a sore subject. When rankle was first used in English, it meant "to fester," and that meaning is linked to the word's Old French ancestor—the noun raoncle or draoncle, which meant "festering sore." Etymologists think this Old French word was derived from the Latin dracunculus, a diminutive form of draco, which means "serpent" and which is the source of the English word dragon. The transition from serpents to sores apparently occurred because people thought certain ulcers or tumors looked like small serpents.

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