\ 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 This worked out perfectly, as I am disabled and use either a walker or a cane, and the virtual classes were easy to attend. Washington Post, "Telling a potential employer about a disability in a remote-work environment," 29 Apr. 2021 As a 3-year-old elephant munched on sugar cane nearby, Jaturaphit Jandarot swung slowly in his hammock. New York Times, "Phuket Was Poised for Tourism Comeback. A Covid Surge Dashed Those Hopes.," 25 Apr. 2021 Native to South and Central America, yucca plants have a sturdy cane from which strappy sword-like leaves develop. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, "How to Grow a Yucca Plant Indoors," 28 Mar. 2021 In January 2017, police released pictures of the footage showing a man who was wearing a trench coat, surgical mask and hat, and carrying a cane, entering the building at 1363 Shermer Road, according to previous reporting. Kaitlin Edquist,, "John Panaligan, suspect in 2016 Northbrook murder, added to US Marshals Most Wanted list," 1 Dec. 2020 In that case, Paul pleaded no contest to attacking Maillelle and an 11-year-old with a wooden cane. Kyle Hopkins, ProPublica, "She Asked to Be Saved From Him. Now She’s Dead.," 28 July 2011 Brierley, who appeared frail at the court and walked with a cane, did not answer questions from reporters about his pleas and his lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment. Nick Perry, Star Tribune, "New Zealand businessman guilty of having child abuse images," 31 Mar. 2021 One woman fought off her assailant on Market Street with a cane, sending him away on a stretcher. Los Angeles Times, "After attacks on Asians in Oakland’s Chinatown, volunteers offer protection and support," 19 Mar. 2021 Cone walked with a cane, and the headmistress of the seminary, a private women’s school, began imposing strange rules that segregated her from the rest of the student body. New York Times, "Overlooked No More: Kitty Cone, Trailblazer of the Disability Rights Movement," 26 Mar. 2021 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

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cane.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for cane



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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