\ˈkān \

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

bastinado (or bastinade), bat, baton, billy, billy club, bludgeon, club, cudgel, nightstick, rod, rung [Scottish], sap, shillelagh (also shillalah), staff, truncheon, waddy [Australian]

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Examples of cane in a Sentence


In the past, some teachers would resort to the cane when students misbehaved. The chair seat is made of cane.


In the past, some teachers would cane students who misbehaved.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Crop Over Festival is a six-week celebration timed to the end of sugar cane season. Kaitlin Menza, Town & Country, "The Best Things to Do, Eat, and See in Barbados," 15 Nov. 2018 The eateries also have moved to more environmentally friendly carryout cups and dishes, using cardboard sandwich containers and platter tray lids made of a sugar cane byproduct. Lorraine Mirabella,, "More eateries, businesses do away with plastic straws," 13 July 2018 It’s made of ground corn and topped with some jalapeno cane syrup to kick the heat and sweetness up a notch, plus honey butter and popped sorghum kernels, giving it a very interesting and complex combination of sweet, rich and spicy. Larry Olmsted, USA TODAY, "Chicken, biscuits and beer: Dallas eatery serves tasty trifecta," 12 July 2018 Sure, crutches and canes and endless doctors appointments aren’t fun, but leaving issues untreated can end up being far worse down the line. Alyssa Clough, SELF, "How Not to Be a Jerk to Someone Battling an Injury," 13 Aug. 2018 Leaning on a cane, the 95-year-old Bloch toured one of the tiny houses under construction. Rick Montgomery, kansascity, "Just 15 weeks in, see how KC's tiny-house veteran village is changing lives | The Kansas City Star," 10 May 2018 Russell, who after his arrest was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer, limped up to the podium in U.S. District Judge John Tharp’s courtroom leaning on a cane for support. Jason Meisner,, "Reputed mobster pleads guilty after recorded talking gleefully about upcoming home invasion," 4 Apr. 2018 The density of scales on roseau cane has increased in recent months. Tristan Baurick,, "Winter freeze did little to halt wetland plague killing roseau cane in Louisiana," 8 Mar. 2018 The Texans return to the playoffs Deshaun Watson is back running on the treadmill, J.J. Watt is walking without a cane and the Houston Texans are my AFC South favorites. Jonathan Jones,, "Fearless Predictions For the 2018 NFL Season," 9 Feb. 2018

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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Statistics for cane

Last Updated

17 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cane

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

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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

the cane : 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 \

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cane

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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

Comments on cane

What made you want to look up cane? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


having a pattern of small flowers

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