International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
gan'-gren (gaggraina, pronounced gan-graina; the King James Version canker):
The name was used by the old Greek physicians for an eating ulcer which corrodes the soft parts and, according to Galen, often ends in mortification. Paul compares the corrupting influence of profane babbling or levity, in connection with subjects which ought to be treated with reverence to this disease (2 Timothy 2:17). The old English word "canker" is used by 16th-and 17th-century authors as the name of a caterpillar which eats into a bud. In this sense it occurs 18 times in Shakespeare (e.g. Midsummer Night's Dream, II, ii, 3). The canker-worm mentioned 6 times by Joel and Nahum is probably the young stage of Acridium peregrinum, a species of locust. Cankered in James 5:3 the King James Version means "rusted" (Greek katiotai), and is so rendered in the Revised Version (British and American). In Susanna verse 52 Coverdale uses the phrase, "O thou old cankered carle," in Daniel's address to the elder, where English Versions of the Bible has "waxen old in wickedness." The word is still used in the Scottish dialect and applied to persons who are cross-grained and disagreeable.