Friday, June 11, 2010

Word of the Week: Rankle

Sometimes you think you know what a word means then you read its etymology and gain a whole new perspective. That's what happened when I stumbled across the etymology for rankle. As commonly used today, it means to cause anger, irritation, or bitterness or to feel that way. Nothing very exciting there, but check out the word's family tree.  Rankle derives from the Middle English word ranclen, which means to fester; ranclen traces its roots to the Anglo-French word rancler, derived from the Old French draoncle and raoncle, meaning festering sore. The Old French roots came from the Medieval Latin dracunculus, a Latin diminutive of draco, meaning serpent or dragon. A festering ulcer from a snake or, worse yet, a dragon bite would rankle anyone. My understanding of this word has changed for the better. I have a new sense of the rankled and the one doing the rankling. Rankle is much more colorful than originally advertised.

Sources: Online Etymology Dictionary and Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary.