can·​cel | \ ˈkan(t)-səl How to pronounce cancel (audio) \
canceled or cancelled; canceling or cancelling\ ˈkan(t)-​s(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce cancelling (audio) \

Definition of cancel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to decide not to conduct or perform (something planned or expected) usually without expectation of conducting or performing it 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 outhis 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

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 \ ˈkan(t)-​s(ə-​)lə-​bəl How to pronounce cancellable (audio) \ adjective
canceler or canceller \ ˈkan(t)-​s(ə-​)lər How to pronounce canceller (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for cancel

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Frequently Asked Questions About cancel

What does it mean to cancel someone?

To cancel someone is to stop supporting them or their work. This means no longer reading what they write, listening to or watching what they create, or enjoying what they produce.

Is it cancelled or canceled?

The forms of cancel in American English are typically canceled and canceling; in British English they are cancelled and cancelling. Cancellation is the usual spelling everywhere, though cancelation is also sometimes used.

What does cancellable mean?

The word cancellable (which is also but less commonly spelled cancelable) describes something, such as a contract or policy, that can be canceled—that is, that can be made no longer valid or effective.

Examples of cancel in a Sentence

Verb 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 Ider will cancel its next two games, Tanner scheduled for tonight and Section on Sept. 18, according to a letter sent to Ider parents and community. Dennis Victory, al, "Parker, Ider will quarantine 14 days after COVID-19 positive tests," 11 Sep. 2020 Michigan City update: Michigan City has to cancel its next two games, against Valparaiso and Merrillville, after a coach tested positive for COVID-19. Mike Hutton,, "Football notes: Wide receiver Devan Howard is ‘the kind of player a coach wants on his team’ and one reason for Portage’s resilience," 10 Sep. 2020 The unrest from players is a result of the CIAC’s decision to cancel full contact football games this fall, after the State Department of Health advised against playing high-risk sports. Shawn Mcfarland,, "Over 1,000 players, coaches, parents swarm state Capitol building in protest of decision to cancel full-contact high school football games," 9 Sep. 2020 At the end of August, the WNBA joined the NBA as the second sports organization to cancel their games in order to call attention to racial injustice after Blake was shot. Brittney Oliver, Glamour, "The Women of the WNBA Are Leading the Way for Activism in Sports—And Have Been for Years," 3 Sep. 2020 The National Hockey League reportedly decided to cancel Thursday night's playoff games, following in the footsteps of other professional sports teams, according to ESPN. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "NHL postpones playoffs amid fallout from Jacob Blake shooting: Report," 27 Aug. 2020 The decisions was came after the shooting of Jacob Blake and unrest in Kenosha, Wis., and the decisions by NBA, MLB and WNBA teams to cancel games. Chuck Carlton, Dallas News, "Baylor, Texas football players forgo practice to draw attention to social justice concerns," 27 Aug. 2020 That could happen if outbreaks occur and teams cancel games. Matt Goul, cleveland, "Making sense of a 2020 Ohio high school football season that will be unlike any other: Your questions answered," 19 Aug. 2020 Failing to execute coherent policies, Larimer said, pushed college presidents into making their choices to cancel games. Nate Carlisle, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah’s college football fans see loss of season as symptom of poor pandemic response," 12 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The first sign of cancel culture bubbling up at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication involved Sonya Duhé, whom the university named dean this spring. Brian Anderson, National Review, "Cancel Culture Comes to Cronkite," 12 Sep. 2020 Conservatives calling for more free speech as a way to push back against campus cancel culture are trying to repair the stable when the horses bolted long ago. Tony Woodlief, WSJ, "Free Speech Absolutism Killed Free Speech," 30 Aug. 2020 Please do not fall victim to the cancel culture sweeping our nation. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Hurricane Laura topples Confederate statue after Louisiana parish votes to keep it," 27 Aug. 2020 In this cancel culture, the sin of being a Republican can't be overlooked. Arkansas Online, "Small tent," 22 Aug. 2020 Harris is not minus good deeds, but the list of bad ones is long, and understand that many woke, postmodern, cancel-culture news outlets right now are saying that criticism is sexist, racist slander. Jay Ambrose Tribune News Service (tns), Star Tribune, "Kamala Harris is far from perfect," 17 Aug. 2020 The cancel culture rewriting history and undermining institutions gets no mention. WSJ, "The Worried Make for an Unwieldy Coalition," 14 Aug. 2020 Some held him up as a high-profile victim of cancel culture. Taylor Mooney, CBS News, "How "cancel culture" changed these three lives forever," 13 Aug. 2020 Her identity, which once might have produced barriers to success, has become a shield from criticism in the age of cancel culture, Carlson said. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Tucker Carlson warns to 'expect more lying, more propaganda' circling Kamala Harris's candidacy," 12 Aug. 2020

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

Verb and Noun

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

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Time Traveler for cancel

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for cancel

Last Updated

16 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cancel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for cancel


How to pronounce cancel (audio)

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 How to pronounce cancel (audio) \
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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