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

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 out his irritability canceled out his natural kindness— Osbert Sitwell
d : to bring to nothingness : destroy
e : to withdraw one's support for (someone, such as a celebrity, or something, such as a company) publicly and especially on social media … the internet has canceled her over her alleged anti-black and homophobic past.— Angie Dare — see also cancel culture
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 \ ˈkan(t)-​s(ə-​)lə-​bəl How to pronounce cancel (audio) \ adjective
canceler or canceller \ ˈkan(t)-​s(ə-​)lər How to pronounce cancel (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 Tampa Mayor Jane Castor also weighed in, tongue firmly in cheek, with an online statement praising the decision to cancel this year. Curt Anderson, ajc, "Aargh! Tampa delays Gasparilla pirate festival until 2022," 16 Feb. 2021 Tampa Mayor Jane Castor also weighed in, tongue firmly in cheek, with an online statement praising the decision to cancel this year. Curt Anderson, Star Tribune, "Aargh! Tampa delays Gasparilla pirate festival until 2022," 16 Feb. 2021 Jonathan Benzick, a junior at TCU, said the university’s decision to not cancel classes led to students risking their safety to attend class today. Talia Richman, Dallas News, "Texas schools, universities are cancelling classes Tuesday because of the winter storm," 15 Feb. 2021 Your decision to cancel our National Anthem at @dallasmavs games is a slap in the face to every American & an embarrassment to Texas. Abigail Rosenthal, Chron, "Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's latest bill is a direct reprimand to Mark Cuban," 10 Feb. 2021 All four of those senators, however, voted to reject the pipeline last week, essentially backing Biden’s day-one decision to cancel it. Abby Smith, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Energy, Presented by AHRI: Nuclear power spurned by House Democrats," 8 Feb. 2021 The decision in March to cancel the men’s national basketball tournament cost the association $702 million in television and marketing rights, N.C.A.A. board members were told during a video call this month. New York Times, "Hammered by Pandemic, N.C.A.A. Revenue Falls by $600 Million," 25 Jan. 2021 Last week, the Arizona Interscholastic Association, under public outcry, reversed a decision to cancel winter sports and started practice immediately. Mitch Stephens,, "California high school sports won’t be resuming Monday," 24 Jan. 2021 Also factoring into the decision to cancel the expedition were the border closure between the United States and Canada, and a shortage of flight resources to bring supplies, Swanke said. John Flesher, Detroit Free Press, "Longtime Isle Royale wolf, moose study interrupted by coronavirus pandemic," 16 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Most recently, Lupe Fiasco moderated a discussion on cancel culture Friday on Clubhouse, while Tina Knowles Lawson hosted a virtual dinner party on a week earlier. Rasha Ali, USA TODAY, "'Unfiltered access': Why Kevin Hart, Elon Musk, more celebs are connecting with fans on Clubhouse," 22 Feb. 2021 Fox News, sons of former US presidents, and popular conservative media figures cried cancel culture, accusing Disney and others of trying to erase the absurdist puppet characters. Adam Epstein, Quartz, "Adding content warnings to the Muppets is the opposite of cancel culture," 22 Feb. 2021 Two bills seeking to outlaw censorship by employers and educators were introduced Tuesday in California, the epicenter of cancel culture. Tori Richards, Washington Examiner, "California lawmaker seeks to outlaw cancel culture," 17 Feb. 2021 The cancel culture is something that will 100 percent have to be weighed. Chris Lee, Vulture, "The Biggest Shot in Hollywood," 16 Feb. 2021 Some House Republicans have come to Greene's defense, saying the effort is an example of cancel culture. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "Kevin McCarthy looks to broker deal regarding Marjorie Taylor Greene's committee assignments: Report," 3 Feb. 2021 The original premise for the bit was a game show called Who’s the Real Victim?, which was poking fun at people who had done awful things blaming cancel culture for the consequences. Megh Wright, Vulture, "What I Learned in the Late-Night Joke Mines," 19 Jan. 2021 Those are the things that are the classic tactics of the cancel culture. Fox News, "Scalise calls for CNN's Tapper to apologize for 'disgraceful' swipe at amputee veteran Rep. Brian Mast," 15 Jan. 2021 And tone down the politically correct cancel culture on college campuses and in newsrooms. Star Tribune, "Thomas L. Friedman: Trump is blowing the GOP apart. God bless him.," 13 Jan. 2021

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

25 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cancel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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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 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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