Meaning of canker in English:


Pronunciation /ˈkaŋkə/

See synonyms for canker

Translate canker into Spanish


mass noun
  • 1A destructive fungal disease of apple and other trees that results in damage to the bark.

    ‘cut out lesions on branches caused by canker’
    • ‘Activity in the citrus orchards of central Queensland has ground to a halt as the state calls for help to deal with the mammoth task of inspecting trees for the disease canker.’
    • ‘It pays to be on the lookout for apple scab, canker and mildew, tackling any problems before they become deeply ingrained and hard to treat.’
    • ‘Trees appear to resist bacterial canker but are very susceptible to fire blight.’
    • ‘But chief health officer Chris Adriaansen says states want trees in the quarantine area at Emerald individually inspected for canker.’
    • ‘In the first stage, 8,000 trees are being treated with a copper spray, to contain the canker when trees are chopped down and burnt.’
    fungal disease, fungal rot, plant rot
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    1. 1.1count noun An open lesion in plant tissue caused by infection or injury.
      ‘check trees for cankers’
      • ‘In dry edible beans, anthracnose causes unsightly cankers on plant stems, pods, and seeds.’
      • ‘As the infection progresses, trees undergo twig and branch dieback and develop stem cankers, which results in tree-death.’
      • ‘He visits other chestnut trees, too, packing mud on their cankers and clipping flowers for use in breeding programs.’
      • ‘Punching holes around each canker, Cummings Carlson's team inoculated the tree with a slurry of hypovirulent fungus.’
      • ‘Removal of bark over the canker reveals a sharply defined region of darkened or discolored wood bordered by white, healthy wood.’
    2. 1.2Fungal rot in some fruits and vegetables, e.g. parsnips and tomatoes.
      • ‘canker is this crop's arch enemy’
      fungal disease, fungal rot, plant rot
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  • 2An ulcerous condition or disease of a human or animal.

    ulcer, ulceration, infection, sore, running sore, lesion, abscess, chancre
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    1. 2.1North American A small ulcer of the mouth or lips.
      ‘a remedy for canker sores’
      • ‘This means that you swish the medicine around in your mouth, especially around your canker sore, for a few minutes before swallowing it.’
      • ‘Call your doctor if your child's canker sore gets worse.’
      • ‘When my husband was a little boy, the doctor told his mom he had a canker sore.’
      • ‘Once it does, the canker sore may swell and burst in about a day.’
      • ‘If your child's doctor prescribes a medicine that should be applied directly to the canker sore, first dry the area with a tissue.’
      • ‘Most villagers show symptoms such as skin cankers as a result of breathing the poisonous air or drinking the polluted water over a long period.’
      sore, ulceration, open sore, abscess, boil, carbuncle, pustule, blister, cyst, gumboil, wen
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    2. 2.2
      another term for thrush (sense 2)
    3. 2.3Ulceration of the throat and other orifices of birds, typically caused by a protozoal infection.
      • ‘secondary infections of canker and coccidiosis’
    4. 2.4Inflammation of the ear of a dog, cat, or rabbit, typically caused by a mite infestation.
      ‘Be sure to purchase ear canker powder as it has the additional benefit of helping to control canker and ear mites in your Shih Tzu.’
      • ‘It promotes healing and dries up the inner ear canker as well as the external areas that may become sore and moist from the canker discharge.’
      • ‘Ear mite or ear canker is a very common infection in most rabbitries and is economically important because of the loss of condition and poor reproductive performance that this infestation can cause.’
      • ‘Whether or not ear mites are present, accumulated ear wax in a dog's ear can lead to ear canker and other serious infections.’
      • ‘When we took our cat to the clinic yesterday, the vet told us that the ear mites were gone, but he thinks that the ear canker may be too strong for our cat and it caused irritation.’
      ulcer, ulceration, infection, sore, running sore, lesion, abscess, chancre
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  • 3A malign and corrupting influence that is difficult to eradicate.

    in singular ‘racism remains a canker at the heart of the nation’
    • ‘Now the big question is how to curb the canker of corruption and restore much needed probity in public life.’
    • ‘‘That is the canker in the heart of the Conservative Party and that is what sparked the trouble,’ he said’
    • ‘For politicians, the overstayer issue is a bit of a canker.’
    • ‘The problem is the blind smugness of a society, and a political class, that see teenage violence simultaneously as a canker and an abstraction.’
    • ‘Anti-intellectualism is a hideous canker in our society, but it feeds on needless pretension and superiority.’
    • ‘‘The frenzied addiction to art,’ wrote Baudelaire, is a canker that devours.’
    • ‘His hurt never diminished and remained as a canker that ate away at him as he grew older.’
    • ‘As music lovers might we not more frequently draw attention to this noise canker in our society?’
    • ‘Yet it is impossible not to recognise in the modern game an additional and growing canker that has attached itself to all the old familiar forms of dubious behaviour.’
    • ‘It is quite a remarkable thing for a novelist to name the canker that makes for human rottenness, especially since James does it with such fine literary craft and such acute theological discernment.’
    • ‘There is a certain pathological view about corruption, about the entire organ being diseased, about a canker in national character, a view which has no basis in facts.’
    blight, evil, scourge, poison, cancer, sickness, disease, pestilence, plague
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  • no object (of a plant or part of a plant) become infected with canker.

    ‘the tree is apt to canker in poor soils’
    • ‘Stems may be girdled just above the soil line; tissue thus damaged may appear cracked or cankered.’
    • ‘Many larger trees showed cankered boles and parasite-bloated boughs.’
    • ‘Tiny black specks, which are reproductive bodies of the cane blight fungus, develop in the brown cankered bark.’
    • ‘Because of Adam's sin, the whole mass of mankind is cankered at the roots.’
    • ‘Spring shoot growth on diseased canes is weak and stunted above the cankered area.’


Middle English (denoting a tumour): from Old French chancre, from Latin cancer ‘crab’ (see cancer).