Can·​ton·​ese ˌkan-tə-ˈnēz How to pronounce Cantonese (audio)
plural Cantonese
: a native or inhabitant of Guangzhou, China
: the dialect of Chinese spoken in Guangzhou and Hong Kong
: a style of Chinese cooking that emphasizes fresh ingredients, subtle tastes, and relatively mild sauces
Cantonese adjective

Examples of Cantonese in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Our parents, who came to the United States separately from Guangzhou, China, in the late 1960s and early 1970s by way of Hong Kong, spoke mostly the Chinese dialects Cantonese and Taishanese to us, but also possessed fluent English from their education in colonial Hong Kong. Kat Chow, The Atlantic, 25 Sep. 2023 National Security police questioned Chan about an essay contest the group hosted three years earlier for literature composed in Cantonese, the lingua franca of Hong Kong. Gina Anne Tam, Foreign Affairs, 19 Sep. 2023 Donya speaks Dari with fellow Afghans and English with her co-workers, but the cookie factory is run by people who talk to one another in Cantonese. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 12 Sep. 2023 Wong said Cantonese includes a lot of slang and phrases that aren’t normally said in Mandarin or English. Austindedios, oregonlive, 12 Sep. 2023 The camera pans around Wang, and his speech suddenly changes from subtitled Cantonese to fluent American English, turning the audience into native speakers of his language. Jasper Lo, The New Yorker, 12 Sep. 2023 Zoé Tong Austin Opening: October Simone Tong is known in New York for the Sichuan and Cantonese cooking on display at her restaurants Silver Apricot and Little Tong Noodle Shop. Kate Kassin, Bon Appétit, 7 Sep. 2023 Born in Hong Kong and raised in the United States, Lee found success in Asia throughout the 1990s, selling millions of albums with songs in English, Mandarin and Cantonese. Berry Wang, CNN, 25 Aug. 2023 Filmmaker and activist Curtis Chin’s coming-of-age memoir looks at how Chung’s Cantonese Cuisine in Detroit became his home away from home. Shannon Carlin, Time, 23 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Cantonese.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Canton Guangzhou, ultimately from Portuguese Cantão, from Chinese (Guangzhou) Gwóngdūng Guangdong

First Known Use

1857, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of Cantonese was in 1857

Dictionary Entries Near Cantonese

Cite this Entry

“Cantonese.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on Cantonese

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