\ 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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun As Harrow uses his glowing purple cane to suck souls out of the border patrol agents in his way, Layla stows away with his crew and watches the massacre take place. Lauren Puckett-pope, ELLE, 6 May 2022 The only animal in attendance is the diamond wolf’s head that tops her cane. Brenna Ehrlich, Rolling Stone, 2 Apr. 2022 The move cut off a valuable supply of river cane, bloodroot, sage and other plants, which can be difficult to find on the Cherokee Nation’s reservation in northeastern Oklahoma, on the border with Arkansas. Alyssa Lukpat, New York Times, 27 Apr. 2022 Wild indigo, river cane, wild onion, hickory, bloodroot and sage are among the species that members of the tribe can now gather at Buffalo National River, which was established in 1972 as the country’s first national river. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Apr. 2022 Indoors, people are opting for an outdoor feel: foliage; earthy color schemes; natural fibers; and materials like cane, jute, raffia and wood. Washington Post, 6 Apr. 2022 Spanto was walking around with a cane, fresh off chemo. Los Angeles Times, 17 Mar. 2022 On a visit to southwestern Guangxi province in September, Premier Li Keqiang asked a sugar-cane farmer about the biggest local challenges. Liyan Qi, WSJ, 1 Feb. 2022 An office that's all work and no Christmas just wouldn't play in the Russell household, so Charlotte is sure to tuck greenery onto the shelves, loop candy-cane garland along with the glass bottles, and situate two trees in the room. Sarah Halverson, Better Homes & Gardens, 12 Oct. 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,, 30 June 2017 See More

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.

First Known Use of cane


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


circa 1667, 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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The first known use of cane was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cane.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for cane


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on cane

Nglish: Translation of cane for Spanish Speakers

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


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