\ 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 Gabriel Preisser is an appealing cad, and earns laughs with goofy dancing and a goofier accent, while Susan Hellman Spatafora sparkles as his clever wife and sings a rousing ode to her pretend homeland of Hungary (Don’t ask). Matthew J. Palm,, "‘Die Fledermaus’: A merry (and welcome) night at the opera | Review," 18 Dec. 2020 Robin agrees, and these cads seem to be earning their paycheck for once. Robbie Daw, Billboard, "'The Masked Singer' Recap: Miss Monster Torched By The Villagers," 13 Feb. 2020 His cad persona only exists within the pages of his book! Kaitlin Reilly,, "The Bold Type‘s Twist Was More Shocking Than Literally Anything On This Is Us," 19 Mar. 2020 Seconds before being struck by the floats of Fire and Ice, the clueless cad was yanked back into the crowd by his lovely date. al, "Order of Osiris offers the Masked Observer a feast of friends," 20 Feb. 2020 April is a starry-eyed girl from Colorado who just wants to meet a nice boy but instead falls in with a handsome upper-crust cad who works at Merrill Lynch. Michele Moses, The New Yorker, "Rona Jaffe’s “The Best of Everything” Is Still One of Our Sharpest Portraits of Female Desire," 10 Feb. 2020 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

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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Cite this Entry

“Cad.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for cad



English Language Learners Definition of cad

old-fashioned : a rude and selfish man

Medical Definition of CAD

coronary artery disease

More from Merriam-Webster on cad

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cad

Nglish: Translation of cad for Spanish Speakers

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