\ ˈkān How to pronounce cane (audio) \

Definition of cane

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : a hollow or pithy, usually slender, and often flexible jointed stem (as of a reed or bamboo) a fishing pole made of cane
(2) : any of various slender woody stems especially : an elongated flowering or fruiting stem (as of a rose) usually arising directly from the ground
b : any of various tall woody grasses or reeds: such as
(1) : any of a genus (Arundinaria) of bamboo
(2) : sugarcane
(3) : sorghum
c : rattan sense 2b especially : split rattan for wickerwork or basketwork
2 : a stick typically of wood or metal with a usually curved handle at one end that is grasped to provide stability in walking or standing
3 : a rod or stick used for flogging
4 : a tiny glass rod used in decorative glasswork (as in millefiori and paperweights)


caned; caning

Definition of cane (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to beat with a cane he sat in a professor's chair and caned sophomores for blowing spitballs— H. L. Mencken
2 : to weave or furnish with cane cane the seat of a chair

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Synonyms for cane

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of cane in a Sentence

Noun In the past, some teachers would resort to the cane when students misbehaved. The chair seat is made of cane. Verb In the past, some teachers would cane students who misbehaved.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Merle also seemed better than usual, Kohler said, using a cane instead of his usual walker. oregonlive, "Vancouver couple married for 52 years dies on the same day from coronavirus," 30 Mar. 2020 Once a sleepy stretch of cane fields and plantation houses, Louisiana’s river corridor has been remade over the past century into a petrochemical powerhouse. Joan Meiners, ProPublica, "Even Louisiana’s Wealthier Neighborhoods Can’t Escape Toxic Air in “Cancer Alley”," 3 Nov. 2019 In 1935, cane toads arrived in Australia, brought from South and Central America to gobble up the beetles plaguing Queensland’s sugar cane fields. Ashley Braun, Longreads, "Research and Rescue: Saving Species from Ourselves," 24 Oct. 2019 So whether that’s walking with a walker, crutches, a cane or free-walking, that’s my main goal. Scott Ostler,, "He will walk: Paralyzed Cal rugby player’s road to recovery and graduation," 12 Apr. 2020 Don Apolonio Carreño grew sugar cane and had mezcal made from the wild agaves that dotted his farm. Tirion Morris, azcentral, "This mezcal was crowned world's best — and Arizona is the only place to get in the U.S.," 31 Mar. 2020 The start of the trail, a short, half-mile, round trip section is good for visitors with wheelchairs, walkers, canes and strollers. John Pana, cleveland, "Outdoor adventures in Northeast Ohio’s parks," 19 Mar. 2020 The magician might place a tambourine, cane and bell into an empty cabinet and close the door. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Amazing Poster Art From the “Golden Age” of Magic," 4 Mar. 2020 There were more canes and hiking sticks than athletic bodies. Lauren Groff, Harper's magazine, "Waiting for the End of the World," 1 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Cane’s marinates never-frozen chicken tenderloins for 24 hours before dropping it in the fryer. Andy Staples,, "Where to eat, drink in Baton Rouge," 30 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cane.' 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 cane


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


1662, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cane


Middle English, from Middle French, from Old Occitan cana, from Latin canna, from Greek kanna, of Semitic origin; akin to Akkadian qanū reed, Hebrew qāneh

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Time Traveler for cane

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for cane

Last Updated

20 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cane.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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How to pronounce cane (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cane

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a short stick that often has a curved handle and is used to help someone to walk
: a form of punishment in which a person is hit with a cane or stick
: the hard hollow stem of a plant (such as bamboo or reed) that is used to make furniture and baskets



English Language Learners Definition of cane (Entry 2 of 2)

: to hit (someone) with a cane or stick as a form of punishment


\ ˈkān How to pronounce cane (audio) \

Kids Definition of cane

1 : an often hollow, slender, and somewhat flexible plant stem
2 : a tall woody grass or reed (as sugarcane)
3 : a rod made especially of wood or metal that often has a curved handle and is used to help someone walk
4 : a rod for beating

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More from Merriam-Webster on cane

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cane

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cane

Spanish Central: Translation of cane

Nglish: Translation of cane for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cane for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about cane

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