can·cel | \ˈkan(t)-səl \
canceled or cancelled; canceling or cancelling\-s(ə-)liŋ \

Definition of cancel 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to call off usually without expectation of conducting or performing at a later time cancel a football game

b : to destroy the force, effectiveness, or validity of : annul cancel a magazine subscription a canceled check

c : to match in force or effect : offset often used with out his irritability canceled out his natural kindness— Osbert Sitwell

d : to bring to nothingness : destroy

2 : to deface (a postage or revenue stamp) especially with a set of ink lines so as to invalidate for reuse

3a : to remove (a common divisor) from numerator and denominator

b : to remove (equivalents) on opposite sides of an equation or account

4a : to mark or strike out for deletion cancel the offensive passage

b : omit, delete

intransitive verb

: to neutralize each other's strength or effect : counterbalance the various pressure groups to a large degree canceled out— J. B. Conant



Definition of cancel (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : cancellation an order quickly followed by a cancel

2a : a deleted part or passage

b(1) : a leaf containing matter to be deleted

(2) : a new leaf or slip substituted for matter already printed

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Other Words from cancel


cancelable or cancellable \-s(ə-)lə-bəl \ adjective
canceler or canceller \-s(ə-)lər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for cancel

Synonyms: Verb

abandon, abort, call, call off, cry off, drop, recall, repeal, rescind, revoke, scrap, scrub

Antonyms: Verb

continue, keep

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When we cancel an appointment we are making the decision to not keep that engagement, and when we cancel a check we are rendering that monetary slip of paper null and void. The early meanings of cancel had much more to do with the action taken for the check than that for the appointment. The word comes from a Latin noun, cancelli, meaning “lattice,” and originally referred to the crosshatched lines drawn across a written passage to signify that it should be deleted. By metaphorical extension, cancel in the sense “to remove or nullify” came to be applied to contracts, obligations and vows, mathematical quantities, checks, and all manner of other things (perhaps most familiarly nowadays, purchase orders and services).

Examples of cancel in a Sentence


The event was canceled at the last minute when the speaker didn't show up. We canceled our dinner reservation. My flight was canceled because of the storm. She canceled her appointment with the dentist. I'm sorry, but I have to cancel. Can we meet next week? He canceled his insurance policy last month. We canceled our magazine subscription when we moved. The bank canceled my credit card. If you subscribe online, you can cancel at any time.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In Colorado, many communities have canceled firework displays, and a number of federal public lands and counties have banned campfires or smoking outdoors. Bradford Betz, Fox News, "Exploding wildfires in US West derail holiday plans," 4 July 2018 The base also had canceled the light show's test run scheduled for Tuesday. Cassie Dickman, sacbee, "Travis Air Force Base postpones July Fourth drone light show due to high winds," 4 July 2018 But just a few hours before she was set to take the stage, Rexha has canceled her appearance due to illness. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bebe Rexha cancels Florida Georgia Line Summerfest show; Rachel Platten takes her place," 30 June 2018 For Uber, black drivers had 6 percent of their requests canceled. Josh Magness, miamiherald, "Black passengers wait longer for Ubers, taxis — and get more cancellations, study finds," 28 June 2018 Photo: Courtesy of Freeform On Tuesday, fans received some distressing news: Freeform has cancelled Famous In Love, effectively squashing their hopes of a Raige-filled season 3., "Famous In Love Isn't Even Cancelled Yet, So Why Is Everyone Coming For Bella Thorne?," 27 June 2018 President Trump added even more barriers shortly after taking office, MAVNI was suspended, and hundreds of recruits had their contracts canceled. Renae Reints, Fortune, "The U.S. Army Is Abruptly Discharging Immigrant Enlistees Previously Headed Toward Citizenship, Lawyers Say," 6 July 2018 Last fall, hundreds of recruits still in the enlistment process had their contracts canceled. CBS News, "U.S. Army abruptly discharging immigrant recruits: AP," 6 July 2018 In Colorado, many communities have canceled firework displays, and a number of federal public lands and counties have some degree of fire restrictions in place, banning things like campfires or smoking outdoors. Colleen Slevin, The Seattle Times, "Wildfire destroys over 100 Colorado homes ahead of holiday," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Most luxury properties also have flexible cancel policy, meaning that rooms can be cancelled within 24-48 hours. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "What Travelers Need to Know about Zika in Florida," 24 Aug. 2016 For all of the tumult during Fox's cancel-happy prelude to its Monday upfront, the resulting fall schedule doesn't look that dramatically different from the one that preceded it. Michael O'connell, The Hollywood Reporter, "Fox Fall Schedule Adds More NFL, Puts New Comedies on Friday," 14 May 2018 Once the cycle starts, the machine will be completely emptied of all cash on hand unless the person collecting the cash presses a cancel button on the keypad. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "In a first, US hit by “Jackpotting” attacks that empty ATMs in minutes," 29 Jan. 2018

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1b


1806, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cancel


Middle English cancellen, from Anglo-French canceller, chanceller, from Late Latin cancellare, from Latin, to make like a lattice, from cancelli (plural), diminutive of cancer lattice, probably alteration of carcer prison


see cancel entry 1

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Phrases Related to cancel

cancel each other/one another out

cancel out

Statistics for cancel

Last Updated

5 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cancel

The first known use of cancel was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for cancel



English Language Learners Definition of cancel

: to stop doing or planning to do (something) : to decide that something (such as a game, performance, etc.) will not happen

: to cause (something) to end or no longer produce a certain effect : to stop (something) from being effective or valid

: to put a mark with a set of ink lines on something (such as a stamp) so that it cannot be used again


can·cel | \ˈkan-səl \
canceled or cancelled; canceling or cancelling

Kids Definition of cancel

1 : to take back : stop from being in effect She canceled the order.

2 : to cause to not happen I hoped for anything that could cancel the dance.— Ann M. Martin, Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation

3 : to be equal in force or importance but have opposite effect The disadvantages of the plan canceled out the advantages.

4 : to remove (a common divisor) from numerator and denominator : remove (equivalents) on opposite sides of an equation

5 : to cross out or strike out with a line He canceled what he had written.

6 : to mark (as a postage stamp) so as to make impossible to use again

canceled or cancelled; canceling or cancelling

Legal Definition of cancel 

1 : to destroy the force, validity, or effectiveness of: as

a : to render (one's will or a provision in one's will) ineffective by purposely making marks through or otherwise marring the text of — compare revoke

Note: The text of the will or of the will's provision need not be rendered illegible in order for a court to find that there was an intent to cancel it.

b : to make (a negotiable instrument) unenforceable especially by purposely marking through or otherwise marring the words or signature of

Note: As stated in section 3-604 of the Uniform Commercial Code, a party that is entitled to enforce a negotiable instrument may cancel the instrument, whether or not for consideration, and discharge the obligation of the other party to pay.

c : to mark (a check) to indicate that payment has been made by the bank

Note: A check is no longer negotiable once it has been cancelled.

d : to withdraw an agreement to honor (a letter of credit) when an issuer wrongfully cancels or otherwise repudiates a credit before presentment of a draftUniform Commercial Code

2 : to put an end to (a contract): as

a : to end (a contract) by discharging the other party from obligations as yet unperformed

b : to end (a contract) in accordance with the provisions of U.C.C. section 2-106 or a similar statute because the other party has breached — compare rescind, terminate

Note: Section 2-106 provides that a party that cancels a contract because of the other party's breach is entitled to seek remedies for breach of all or part of the contract.

c : to put an end to (a lease contract) because of the default of the other party

Note: Under U.C.C. section 2A-505, a party that cancels because of the other party's default may seek remedies for the default of all or any unperformed part of the lease contract.

3 : to terminate (an insurance policy) before the end of the policy period usually as allowed by policy provisions

Other Words from cancel

cancelable or cancellable adjective

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Comments on cancel

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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