can·​can | \ ˈkan-ˌkan How to pronounce cancan (audio) \

Definition of cancan

: a woman's dance of French origin characterized by high kicking usually while holding up the front of a full ruffled skirt

Examples of cancan in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web With dizzying dances — encompassing music hall, ballet, hip-hop and, of course, the cancan — by Otto Pichler, the show is frantic and fabulous, a brilliant curatorial move on Mr. Hinterhäuser’s part. Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, "Nearly 100, the Salzburg Festival Doesn’t Wait to Celebrate," 16 Aug. 2019 Standard period fare like the cancan (bien sûr) and La Danse Apache is reinterpreted with electric wit. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: ‘Moulin Rouge! The Musical’ Offers a Party, and a Playlist, for the Ages," 25 July 2019 Some mantises evolved to look like showy blossoms, a cancan of deadly come-ons. Natalie Angier, New York Times, "Birds Beware: The Praying Mantis Wants Your Brain," 22 Sep. 2017 Friday night at 8:30 p.m., 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Live entertainment at four stages ranges from Madame Gigi's Outrageous French CanCans to Milwaukee area singer-songwriters Claire Kelly and Ryan McIntyre. Sarah Hauer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Free Bastille Days festival gives Milwaukee a lively French accent," 12 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cancan.' 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 cancan

1842, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cancan


Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cancan

Time Traveler for cancan

Time Traveler

The first known use of cancan was in 1842

See more words from the same year

Statistics for cancan

Cite this Entry

“Cancan.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for cancan


How to pronounce cancan (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cancan

: a woman's dance of French origin that involves kicking the legs while holding up the front of a full skirt

More from Merriam-Webster on cancan

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cancan Encyclopedia article about cancan

Comments on cancan

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!