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 Originally designed in 1818 as the identical twin to Fort Morgan, work on the Dauphin Island fort was suspended in 1821 when Congress cancelled funding. Kelly Kazek |, al, "The ‘self-flushing’ latrine at this 1821 Alabama fort was ahead of its time," 9 Jan. 2020 Albert Rodríguez, who is from the southwest town of Guánica, said the tsunami sirens went off before officials canceled the alert. CBS News, "Deadly earthquake rocks Puerto Rico, causing widespread power outage," 7 Jan. 2020 The move comes after Trump's backers in other states have canceled their primaries, even though Trump has an easy path to winning his party's nomination for a second term. Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin Republicans try to keep Trump's primary opponents off the ballot," 7 Jan. 2020 The Rundown Reuters Australia's leaders unmoved on climate action after devastating bushfires Reuters China must cancel new coal plants to achieve climate goals: study Calendar WEDNESDAY | JAN. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Energy: Oil and gas industry plans ‘offense’ in 2020 opposing fracking bans," 7 Jan. 2020 The Marines are also heading to the region, as USNI News reports the USS Bataan Expeditionary Strike Group has canceled planned exercises with the Moroccan military to redirect to the Middle East. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "All the U.S. Military Hardware Headed to the Middle East," 6 Jan. 2020 Meanwhile, more than a quarter of a million people have signed a petition asking that officials cancel Sydney's famed New Year's Eve fireworks display and redistribute the funds toward firefighting efforts. Aj Willingham, CNN, "5 things to know for December 30: Religious attacks, airstrikes, plane crashes, Australia fires," 30 Dec. 2019 Customer service representatives will still be available, and subscribers can cancel their membership at any time without penalties. Kellie Hwang, Indianapolis Star, "BlueIndy: Indianapolis electric car-sharing program to shut down," 20 Dec. 2019 Along the Hakai Passage on the central coast of British Columbia, sea-level rise and the rebound of the land almost perfectly canceled each other out, meaning today’s shoreline is within a few yards of the shoreline 14,000 years ago. Rafal Gerszak, Smithsonian, "It’s one of the greatest mysteries of our time. But archaeologists and even geneticists are closer than ever to understanding when humans made the first bold journey to the Americas," 19 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Passwords are being taken and hackers are trying to break in, but first: a cartoon about cancel culture. Alex Baker-whitcomb, Wired, "An Iranian Hacking Campaign, Social Media Surveillance, and More News," 9 Jan. 2020 Ironically, the comedian also poked fun at cancel culture. Amir Vera, CNN, "Here are just some of the people who were canceled or threatened with cancellation in 2019," 8 Dec. 2019 The cancel culture is often stoked by sheeples with no interest in drilling down to truths. Washington Post, "Let’s cancel ‘OK Boomer’ in 2020, and the humblebrag, too," 6 Dec. 2019 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

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

12 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cancel.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 25 January 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

Comments on cancel

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dull or mediocre

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