\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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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

Select the strongest, tallest cane and leave it unpruned. Stan Davidson,, "With patience, blueberries can be grown in containers," 10 July 2018 There are scooters, walkers, canes, and ambling feet. Beth Kephart,, "Frances Metzman's 'Cha-Cha Babes of Pelican Bay': The rules of dancing, life, and rocking thongs in a retirement village," 6 July 2018 Ugo Laffolay, of France, astonished the crowd by balancing on one hand atop a tower of canes and extending his body perpendicularly. Don Aucoin,, "A Cirque du Soleil show that’s as interested in ‘Ahh’ as ‘Wow’," 29 June 2018 Three bettors carry canes, and two wear cowboy hats. Mike Finger, San Antonio Express-News, "For Retama regulars, woman’s big win something to celebrate," 7 May 2018 A week later, Alex was able to leave the hospital with a cane rather than a walker. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "Doctors at Riley thought boy might never walk again. He surprised them.," 13 Apr. 2018 Dripps at times had used a wheelchair, scooter, walker and sometimes a cane. Janelle Walker, Elgin Courier-News, "Family of man who shot 3 officers in South Elgin standoff says he was distraught with health, financial woes," 10 July 2018 Spencer leaned on his cane while saluting his fallen comrades with the sign of the cross, the newspaper says. CBS News, "Last survivor of World War II unit fulfills its whiskey pact," 3 July 2018 JUST A FEW decades ago, a backyard bonfire was considered fairly entertaining, especially the fun of transforming marshmallows into what amounted to cane-sugar briquettes. Kathryn O’shea-evans, WSJ, "How to Build a Spectacular, Fragrant Fire," 16 May 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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Phrases Related to cane

candy cane

the cane

Statistics for cane

Last Updated

8 Oct 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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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).


lying above or upon

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