I can’t now remember where I heard it, but someone said ‘something something something – they will become very cantankerous’. It tickled me because it’s an old-fashioned word these days I’d have thought. I then began to wonder where such an odd word would come from.
According to one dictionary I looked it up in, it’s origin is a mystery, another said it was from the 1700’s and was probably a mixture of the Irish word ‘ceant‘ meaning auction, and the English word ‘rancorous’, or Old french originally meaning bitter. So – a bitter auction?
According to another source cantankerous is from old Wiltshire dialect and I’ve found a selection of words which might have something to do with it:
Cank -to overcome, or quank/quanked to be overcome by fatigue
Rank – audacious or cheeky or outrageous – especially in speech
Tang/tankard – to hit a sheep bell, or the noise of a sheep bell
My favourite etymological site, suggests it comes from an old middle English dialect word – but doesn’t say which dialect, so it could be Wiltshire, to mean a trouble maker!
My featured image is of Silbury Hill in Wiltshire