ca·​nard kə-ˈnärd How to pronounce canard (audio)
 also  -ˈnär
: a false or unfounded report or story
especially : a fabricated report
The report about a conspiracy proved to be a canard.
: a groundless rumor or belief
the widespread canard that every lawyer is dishonest
: 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

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 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 Myths and canards about Social Security and its supposed fiscal troubles have steadily proliferated over the years. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 24 Nov. 2023 This is another quacking canard from the Simpson duck pond. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 24 Nov. 2023 Both the coupe and convertible add canards to the front bumper, which are meant to balance front-end lift at higher speeds. Jack Fitzgerald, Car and Driver, 15 Aug. 2023 The canard that politicians and pop-music stars share style, rebellion, and originality was exposed during the Covid lockdowns through the shameless conformity and blatant partisanship so many showbiz folk displayed. Armond White, National Review, 8 Sep. 2023 Cooper responded with the unfortunately classic canard about bathrooms. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 23 Aug. 2023 The special edition adds front bumper canards, a limited-slip differential, and rear performance dampers to help with performance. Jack Fitzgerald, Car and Driver, 15 Aug. 2023 And while he’s put the old canard on deficit spending to rest, his legislative slate will most likely include popular and passable programs, such as vaccine distribution, Covid-19 relief, and infrastructure. Mari Uyehara, The New Republic, 18 Jan. 2021 The decade that followed was bracketed by two Big Lies: the canard that Obama was born in Africa and thus didn’t belong in the White House, and the fiction that the 2020 election was stolen and thus Donald Trump never should have vacated the premises. Los Angeles Times, 2 Apr. 2021

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1843, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of canard was in 1843


Dictionary Entries Near canard

Cite this Entry

“Canard.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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