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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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

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 Numerous flights were delayed and some were canceled as several inches of snow coated the runways. Alex Johnson, NBC News, "Heavy snow and wind could slam the brakes on Thanksgiving travel," 27 Nov. 2019 In Minneapolis, 191 flights were reported delayed and 24 cancelled as a result of the heavy snow that was falling across the region. Joe Taschler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Storm continues to slam areas of central, western and northern Wisconsin; winds could gust to 55 mph in Milwaukee on Wednesday," 27 Nov. 2019 In Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska, heavy snow shut down highways Tuesday and forced more than 1,000 travelers to sleep overnight in Denver’s airport after hundreds of flights were canceled just as Thanksgiving travel moved into high gear. Kathleen Mcwilliams,, "Severe weather across the nation could hamper Thanksgiving travel in Connecticut," 27 Nov. 2019 Guilt that my turkey dinner might be cancelling out every bike ride to the grocery store and unused plastic bag. Guilt that a better sister would have visited by now. Heather Hansman, Outside Online, "How to Go Green on Black Friday," 26 Nov. 2019 Conyears-Ervin’s chief of staff Tiffany Harper wrote to Lightfoot’s chief of staff Maurice Classen alleging that canceling the detail was politically motivated. Gregory Pratt,, "Chicago Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin hired private security using taxpayer funds after CPD found there was no threat. She disagreed, saying people call her ‘the money lady.’," 25 Nov. 2019 Security can be the most stressful part of holiday travel, but the terminals beyond carry their own annoyances: cancelled or delayed flights, children running around, bags on terminal seats and more. Sameer Rao,, "Where to eat well at BWI and other ways to stay sane during the holiday airport rush," 25 Nov. 2019 Emmanuelle Seigner, Polanski’s wife, who appears in An Officer and a Spy, canceled an interview with France’s leading morning radio show during the promotion tour, the show’s host said. Rachel Donadio, The Atlantic, "France’s Growing Pushback Against Roman Polanski," 23 Nov. 2019 That planned meet-and-greet was reportedly canceled after only two people showed. Lacrai Mitchell, CBS News, "New Hampshire, South Carolina Democrats express skepticism about Deval Patrick's chances," 22 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun James also added that cancel culture has become pretty scary. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "James Charles Says Tati Westbrook’s Accusations That He "Seduces" Straight Men Are "Disgusting"," 27 Nov. 2019 No one likes a bully, and in this age of cancel culture, the behavior can have dramatic consequences. Frederick Reimers, Outside Online, "Why Thousands of People Are Mad at Backcountry," 6 Nov. 2019 The cancel-school petitions have been posted from around the country. Leada Gore |, al, "Alabama students launch petition to cancel school the Friday after Halloween," 28 Oct. 2019 Sarah Silverman spoke out about cancel culture, the need for empathy and mental health awareness across a public appearance and documentary this past week., "Sarah Silverman," 14 Oct. 2019 The episode is being held up as the latest example of cancel culture, in which people, usually celebrities, are publicly shunned and boycotted after allegations of problematic behavior come to light. Scottie Andrew And Christina Zdanowicz, CNN, "He raised millions in donations through beer money. Then his old racist tweets surfaced," 26 Sep. 2019 But conservatism’s version of cancel culture may be distinct from the Left’s version in one important way. Ross Douthat, National Review, "Horror-Comedy Ready or Not Plays on Primal Human Fears," 12 Sep. 2019 The Department of Public Health has recommended that communities identified as critical cancel or reschedule outdoor activities that occur from dusk to dawn. Hanna Krueger,, "No Friday night lights: High school games moved for communities at critical risk for EEE," 5 Sep. 2019 In today’s mainstream comedy of liberal partisanship and fear of cancel culture, only the gutless are trustworthy. Peter Spiliakos, National Review, "The Simpsons and the Cowardice of Tribal Comedy," 28 Aug. 2019

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

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Cancel.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 6 December 2019.

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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

Comments on cancel

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very cautious or careful

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