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 is 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spelled cancelable) describes something, such as a contract or policy, that can be canceled—that is, that can be made no longer valid or effective.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 The league on Wednesday decided to cancel two weeks of preseason games, a person with knowledge of the move told USA TODAY Sports' Mike Jones. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona Cardinals to lose 2020 NFL preseason games vs. Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos," 2 July 2020 Peoria, Bloomington, Champaign and Carbondale have all decided to cancel fireworks on July 4, while Quincy decided to postpone them until August. Kevin Bessler, Washington Examiner, "Some Illinois communities cancel fireworks displays, others go ahead," 2 July 2020 Anchorage Fairs and Festivals, the nonprofit that organizes the July 4 festival, decided to cancel in April. Danielle Duclos, Anchorage Daily News, "July Fourth parades and celebrations canceled across Alaska," 1 July 2020 Other festivals, including Cannes Film Festival in France (May), Tribeca Film Festival (April) and South by Southwest (March), were forced to cancel because of COVID-19, though each preserved some components online. Jake Coyle, USA TODAY, "Sundance Film Festival expands to 20 cities or more, takes films online amid COVID crisis," 29 June 2020 Amid the uptick in Covid-19 cases in the Harris County area, the city of Bellaire decided to cancel their July 4 parade. Ryan Nickerson, Houston Chronicle, "City of Bellaire cancels July 4 parade," 29 June 2020 But after the pandemic forced the theater to cancel the final three months of its subscription season, prospects for the Shakespeare in the Park program were iffy, too. David Lyman, The Enquirer, "Live theater is back! Actors live, travel together to bring it back safely," 27 June 2020 If the trends don’t change, the 2,000-bed hospital chain could have 600 coronavirus patients in the next three weeks and could be forced to cancel nonessential surgeries, Boom said., "With virus cases on the rise, hospitals are counting beds again," 25 June 2020 The cancellation marks the first major event the NFL has been forced to cancel because of COVID-19. oregonlive, "Pro Football Hall of Fame Game cancelled due to coronavirus: Report," 25 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This is actual cancel culture—the means through which workers are routinely forced out of their jobs in service of institutional cultures of white supremacy. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "At-Will Employment Is the Real Cancel Culture," 17 June 2020 Lynch spoke out against cancel culture and online abuse, while still disagreeing with Rowling's views. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Every Harry Potter actor who's spoken out against J.K. Rowling's controversial trans comments," 11 June 2020 Ivanka Trump took to Twitter Friday evening to call out cancel culture after she was dropped as a commencement speaker for Wichita State University. Fox News, "Ivanka Trump rips ‘cancel culture’ after she’s dropped as commencement speaker," 7 June 2020 Every year, more snowflakes enter the real world, spreading cancel culture through every strata of society. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "The Real Snowflakes on the Op-Ed Page," 10 June 2020 If cancel culture was real, Adams’ rescheduled shows will be played to empty arenas. Kathleen Newman-bremang,, "Why Canada Will Never Cancel Bryan Adams," 12 May 2020 The order’s directive to self-isolate will require that the city Parks Department cancel permits for field events and sports activities. Henry Goldman,, "New York City Has One-Third of U.S. Virus Cases, Mayor Says," 8 May 2020 Lovato’s specific episode discussed cancel culture, eating disorders, body image issues, and bullying. Kaitlin Reilly,, "Why Fans Are Resurfacing The Taylor Swift & Demi Lovato Feud," 27 Apr. 2020 Read more about this in our cancel-for-any-reason insurance explainer. Megan Spurrell, Condé Nast Traveler, "Should I Cancel My Summer Vacation or Fall Trip?," 13 Apr. 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

6 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cancel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 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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More from Merriam-Webster on cancel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cancel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cancel

Spanish Central: Translation of cancel

Nglish: Translation of cancel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cancel for Arabic Speakers

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