ca·nard | \kə-ˈnärd also -ˈnär \

Definition of canard 

1a : a false or unfounded report or story especially : a fabricated report The report about a conspiracy proved to be a canard.

b : a groundless rumor or belief the widespread canard that every lawyer is dishonest

2 : an airplane with horizontal stabilizing and control surfaces in front of supporting surfaces also : a small airfoil in front of the wing of an aircraft that can increase the aircraft's performance

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for canard


story, tale, whisper

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did You Know?

In 16th-century France "vendre des canards à moitié" was a colorful way of saying "to fool" or "to cheat." The French phrase means, literally, "to half-sell ducks." No one now knows just what was meant by "to half-sell"; the proverb was probably based on some story widely known at the time, but the details have not survived. At any rate, the expression led to the use of "canard," the French word for "duck," with the meaning "a hoax" or "a fabrication." English speakers adopted this "canard" in the mid-1800s. The aeronautical sense of "canard," used from the early days of flying, comes from the stubby duck-like appearance of the aircraft.

Examples of canard in a Sentence

The book repeats some of history's oldest canards. the widespread canard that every lawyer is dishonest

Recent Examples on the Web

The most galumphing canard is that Donald Trump paves the way for all who succeed in business suddenly to succeed in presidential politics. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Starbucks Chief Won’t Stay Hot," 5 June 2018 And how irresponsible for Abbas — a world leader of sorts — to spew such low-level, garden variety anti-Semitic canards. Nicholas Goldberg,, "Mahmoud Abbas' reprehensible anti-Semitic comments deserve unequivocal condemnation," 2 May 2018 The site also fabricated a story about Delhi’s most prominent mosque, the Jama Masjid, losing its electricity connection over unpaid bills, a canard that found its way to television news. Sadanand Dhume, WSJ, "India’s Government Wages a Phony War on Fake News," 5 Apr. 2018 Multiple lifting surfaces, such as forward canards and a small t-tail, will prevent sound waves from coalescing on the aircraft. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "NASA Picks Lockheed Martin to Make Low-Boom Supersonic X-Plane," 3 Apr. 2018 Sojola sang boldly and was delightfully comic living up to the old canard that God gave tenors resonance in the place of brains. Theodore P. Mahne,, "'Phantom of the Opera' revisits Saenger with fresh new production that maintains the magic," 19 Mar. 2018 That’s the great canard of any sports stadium campaign. Paul Daugherty,, "Paul Daugherty's Morning Line: Is the West End being heard by FC Cincinnati?," 22 Feb. 2018 Obama punctured that canard by producing his long-form birth certificate. Dan Balz, Washington Post, "Trump does more damage to himself than his opponents ever manage to do," 13 Jan. 2018 All of the familiar pro and con gun canards will be offered. Phillip Morris,, "America's gun reckoning continues six years after the Chardon High School attack: Phillip Morris," 28 Feb. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of canard

1851, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for canard

French, literally, duck; in sense 1, from Middle French vendre des canards à moitié to cheat, literally, to half-sell ducks

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about canard

Listen to Our Podcast about canard

Dictionary Entries near canard








Statistics for canard

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for canard

The first known use of canard was in 1851

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for canard



English Language Learners Definition of canard

: a false report or story : a belief or rumor that is not true

More from Merriam-Webster on canard

See words that rhyme with canard

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for canard

Comments on canard

What made you want to look up canard? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!