ræng-kêl • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb
Meaning: 1. To deeply and persistently irritate. 2. To remain inflamed and worsen, to fester.
Notes: A word similar to today's, wrangle "to argue persistently", begins with an irrelevant W. In fact, confusion can arise with a number of English words with irrelevant Ws, like write, wriggle, and wring. Remember that rankle is not among them. Also remember that the E comes off before suffixes that begin with a vowel, as in rankling.
In Play: Rankle is a verb that may perform intransitive or transitive duty. You may rankle over an affront: "It still rankles in Abel Mann's heart that Myrna left him so abruptly without even taking off his Harley-Davidson leather jacket." It is also possible for an affront or a person to rankle you: "The new Mercedes in his neighbor's driveway rankles Foster more than he is willing to admit."
Word History: Today's Good Word has a twisted history that snakes its way from snakes through festering sores to the festering resentment it means today. It all began with Latin draco(n) "serpent", which English also grabbed directly for its word, dragon. However, the word had a diminutive, dracunculus "little snake", which was inherited by Old French, where it was melted down to draoncle "festering sore". This noun was converted into a verb, draoncler "to fester". The noun and the verb somehow lost the initial D before Old English borrowed it as ranclen "to fester", whence today's Good Word.
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