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

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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 "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 But Rushdie buys into the tired liberal canard that posits that liberals are the ones going out on a limb to speak truth to power. Michael Washburn, National Review, 13 June 2021 For the most part, liberals have failed to notice, let alone spotlight, that this canard gets the facts exactly backward. Simon Lazarus, The New Republic, 6 May 2021 Others commented that the divorce was a cover-up for the real truth that the Gateses were already dead, a longstanding canard within the QAnon community. Ej Dickson, Rolling Stone, 4 May 2021 And by largely handing the project off to private industry, the Biden administration once again gives in to the canard that government is incapable of handling big problems, especially surrounding public health. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, 31 Mar. 2021 And in the intervening years, researchers have found that popular beliefs about the cold detachment of urban dwellers is largely a canard, one sustained by headline-grabbing media accounts of people who appear to ignore a crime in progress., 3 Apr. 2021 But that’s a canard of democratic accountability belied by the fact that corporations routinely break the law and face minimal punishment, especially in the U.S. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, 23 Feb. 2021 This is, of course, a canard tossed in the last week of the year, with the House now out of session. Jeff Bewkes, Fortune, 30 Dec. 2020 This old but pervasive canard drove political organization and white frenzy more than some readers may grasp. David W. Blight, The New York Review of Books, 3 Nov. 2020

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.

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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

19 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Canard.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jun. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of canard

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

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