Someone or something cantankerous is in a bad mood and is grumpy, and is eager to start a petty disagreement.
can TANK ur us
Part of speech:
(Adjectives are describing words, like "large" or "late."
They can be used in two ways:
1. Right before a noun, as in "a cantankerous caller."
2. After a linking verb, as in "The caller was cantankerous.")
Remembering the meaning:
In case this word is new to you, you might wonder how to recall its meaning if the word has no particular roots that provide clues. So, notice how if you shout "cantankerous!" then it kind of sounds like "can't take this!" Which is helpful, because grouchy, grumpy, argumentative people (cantankerous people) are hard to take.
How to use it:
Dictionaries note that this word has a conversational tone (an informal, colloquial tone) and yet you still find it all the time in serious contexts, so go for it--use it whenever you like!
Talk about cantankerous people and personalities, cantankerous moods and phases, and cantankerous utterances and gestures.
How did popular culture invent the trope of the cantankerous old school principal? All of my principals have been friendly. (Bus drivers are another story though.)
She really doesn't deserve her cantankerous reputation. It's just that people keep trying to take advantage of her, and she doesn't take it sitting down.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "cantankerous" means when you can explain it without saying "cranky" or "quarrelsome."
Think of someone you know who is always grouchy, and fill in the blanks: "As cantankerous as ever, (Person) still _____."
Example: "As cantankerous as ever, she still corrects every little thing he says."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
We're playing with clichés this month, examining the origins of some colorful ones. I’ll give you a cliché (some of which you might also call a proverb and/or an idiom) and pose a multiple-choice question about its origin. (I used this nifty book as a reference!)
Yesterday's question: When you express how little you care about something by saying you “don’t give a rap for it” or “don’t care a rap for it,” is the “rap” a reference to a broken toy, a fake coin, or an expired coupon?
Answer: The “rap” from that expression is a counterfeit coin from 18th century Ireland.
Try this one today: “Balm in Gilead.” This means something that soothes you and is a reference to a soothing ointment made from leaves. Is this cliché from the Bible, the Torah, or the Quran?
A Point Well Made:
Maya Angelou: “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, however, if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
1. The opposite of CANTANKEROUS is
2. Cantankerous _____ will get you _____.
A. flattery .. everywhere B. grunts .. no favors
C. points .. larger rewards
Answers are below.
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Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Although most of our words have verifiable histories--that is, we know where they came from and often what the individual roots mean-- today's "cantankerous" has a more slippery past. The OED says "cantankerous" might have come from a Middle English word for people who raise strife. Seems legit.
But here are a few interesting histories that we're more sure of. See if you can recall each word: