Definition of cantankerous in English:


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  • Bad-tempered, argumentative, and uncooperative.

    ‘a crusty, cantankerous old man’
    • ‘When the cantankerous old miller dies of a heart attack, he bequeaths his property to his eldest son, his donkey to the second, and the mill cat to his youngest son Mark.’
    • ‘Now we have responsibility for my 88 year old cantankerous maiden aunt who suffers from moderately severe dementia and resides in a rest home.’
    • ‘This isn't like the cantankerous old Johnboy we've come to know and loathe, and frankly I find this a bit disturbing, but a welcome change.’
    • ‘The only other person from my group who was there was Ernie (the old cantankerous fool).’
    • ‘His cantankerous old mother and frustrated spinster sister are a constant drain on his increasingly shaky resources.’
    • ‘They used to do a sketch as two cantankerous old dons forever inventing new ways to insult one another.’
    • ‘He's a cantankerous old man, set in his ways and prone to sulking to get what he wants.’
    • ‘And you dare not write off people who pen moaning letters to parish newsletters or local papers as cantankerous curmudgeons.’
    • ‘Like all of us, he could be grumpy and cantankerous, but he was never mean-spirited in deed or thought.’
    • ‘I blurted out to my kind friend that I had absolutely no interest in that cantankerous, melancholy old woman!’
    • ‘Holmes investigates the possible spontaneous combustion of a cantankerous old man.’
    • ‘He was always known as Captain Jessie, a cantankerous old duffer nearing his eightieth year.’
    • ‘She was a cantankerous old dear and as deaf as a doorpost, but we had always been on friendly terms, and I had never quarrelled with her.’
    • ‘The cantankerous old lady she had worked for for six years had been good to her, in her gruff way.’
    • ‘There are no doubt wise and astute teenagers, just as there are foolish and cantankerous old folks.’
    • ‘To anybody that could read no deeper than the physical, he was just as grumpy and cantankerous as always.’
    • ‘He can be overbearing, cantankerous and obnoxious at times.’
    • ‘Later, though, Sammy became more cantankerous.’
    • ‘Much like the late-lamented, cantankerous Mr Dahl, most children revel in the gleefully grotesque and delightfully disgusting.’
    • ‘His dad is the cantankerous black sheep of the mob.’
    bad-tempered, irascible, irritable, grumpy, grouchy, crotchety, tetchy, testy, crusty, curmudgeonly, ill-tempered, ill-natured, ill-humoured, peevish, cross, fractious, disagreeable, pettish, crabbed, crabby, waspish, prickly, peppery, touchy, scratchy, splenetic, shrewish, short-tempered, hot-tempered, quick-tempered, dyspeptic, choleric, bilious, liverish, cross-grained
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/kanˈtaNGk(ə)rəs/ /kænˈtæŋk(ə)rəs/


Mid 18th century of unknown origin; perhaps a blend of Anglo-Irish cant ‘auction’ and rancorous (see rancor).