\ ˈkad How to pronounce cad (audio) \

Definition of cad

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a bus conductor
2 : a man who acts with deliberate disregard for another's feelings or rights a selfish cad

Definition of CAD (Entry 2 of 2)

1 computer-aided design

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Synonyms for cad

Synonyms: Noun

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The Origins of Cad

You might wonder how the word cad came to refer to both a bus conductor and a disagreeable man. Were the bus drivers of yore thought to be particularly unsavory characters? Not necessarily, and there is a reasonable explanation for how we arrived at the most common meaning of this word today (that is, the one for a badly-behaved man).

In 18th-century Scotland, caddie had the meaning “one that waits about for odd jobs.” Shortened to cad, this word took on the additional senses “an unbooked coach passenger” (one who, presumably, waited about for a ride) and “an unskilled assistant or laborer.” The “unbooked passenger” meaning seems to have led to the “omnibus conductor” one. The “odd job-seeker” or “unskilled laborer” sense, for its part, developed into the “disagreeable man” sense at Oxford University, where students applied cad in a dismissive fashion to job-seeking townsmen whom they considered vulgar.

Examples of cad in a Sentence

Noun He is a cad, not a gentleman. he's the type of cad who readily bad-mouths every girl who's ever dumped him
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In those days, having a father who painted allowed a young woman to gain studio experience without risking her reputation by being sent away from home and put in the custody of a possible cad. Deborah Solomon, New York Times, "Old Mistresses Turn Tables on Old Masters," 16 Dec. 2019 Gregory has found in Malvolio a different, less redeemable, cad to settle into. Lisa Kennedy, The Know, "Review: The accent is on the hilarious at the Denver Center’s “Twelfth Night”," 30 Nov. 2019 Operagoers willing to consider the title character more cad than criminal have no such option this time around. Howard Reich,, "Lyric Opera review: A ‘Don Giovanni’ for the #MeToo era — who is far more monster than charmer," 15 Nov. 2019 Spirits of jilted lovers take a photographer on an odyssey through his many failed relationships to find out what made him such a cad, and if there is any hope for true love. Los Angeles Times, "Here are the feature and TV films airing the week of Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019," 11 Aug. 2019 As the poet Rodolfo, tenor Mackenzie Whitney brought a lightness of tone and earnestness of demeanor to a difficult role that requires the singer to walk the line between ardent lover and callous cad, a distinction Whitney managed admirably., "Cleveland Opera Theater kicks off season with ingenious, talent-rich ‘La Boheme’," 16 Sep. 2019 What’s curious is that Mr. Hiddleston, so good at bad boys, isn’t playing Jerry, the more glamorous role: the cad, the pursuer, the best man who goes after the bride. New York Times, "Tom Hiddleston on ‘Betrayal’ and the Art of Self-Protection," 22 Aug. 2019 Reid Scott has made something of an art out of portraying charming cads. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Late Night actor Reid Scott reflects on playing the 'privileged white prick'," 14 June 2019 But the Franklin that emerges here is often bullheaded and foolish—even a cad. Sam Kean, WSJ, "‘Young Benjamin Franklin’ Review: Poor Richard Sows His Oats," 17 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cad.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cad


1833, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cad


English dialect, unskilled assistant, short for Scots caddie

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Statistics for cad

Last Updated

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cad.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for cad


How to pronounce CAD (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cad

old-fashioned : a rude and selfish man

Medical Definition of CAD

coronary artery disease

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More from Merriam-Webster on cad

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cad

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cad

Nglish: Translation of cad for Spanish Speakers

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