ca·​nard | \ kə-ˈnärd How to pronounce canard (audio) 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

Synonyms for canard


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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 of "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 Trotting out the canard that married priests would mean less abuse isn’t just ignorant. Ed Condon, National Review, 31 July 2022 Of course, that is a canard, as those government changes are over unique internal political matters. Steven Tian, Fortune, 25 July 2022 Trump’s supposed resistance to war was always a canard. Jake Bittle, The New Republic, 13 Aug. 2021 Trump’s supposed resistance to war was always a canard. Jake Bittle, The New Republic, 13 Aug. 2021 A few days later, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, in an interview on Italian television, repeated the same canard about anti-Semitic Jews, adding that Hitler was part-Jewish. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, 18 May 2022 That canard is on a par with claims that disinfectants cure COVID. Alan Murray, Fortune, 3 May 2022 Such allegations are the standard political canard Washington Democrats consistently default to throwing out whenever gas prices go up during an election year. David Blackmon, Forbes, 1 May 2022 Trump’s supposed resistance to war was always a canard. Jake Bittle, The New Republic, 13 Aug. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of canard

1843, 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

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Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Canard.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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