\ 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

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 latest victim is Ducktales: Remastered, the charming remake of the old NES game starring Scrooge McDuck and his surprisingly bouncy cane. Julie Muncy, WIRED, "2K Games Probed YouTuber Over Alleged Borderlands 3 Leaks," 9 Aug. 2019 Audience member Tristan Lombard’s hand signal to a server keeps getting in the way, so Lee darts across the aisle to him, leaving her orthopedic cane next to her chair. Tony Bravo,, "Late bloomer Linda Lee is San Francisco’s septuagenarian nightlife queen," 18 July 2019 At one point, a verbal spat broke out after a disgruntled resident — who cursed during his comments at the podium — claimed another member of the audience had raised his cane at him, prompting Mayor Bob Whalen to call for order. Faith E. Pinho,, "Laguna Beach bans Airbnb and other short-term rentals from residential areas but will grandfather in existing units," 5 June 2019 The diverse portfolio accrued by the group has included vineyards in California, dairy farms in New Zealand and operations producing cotton, soybeans and sugar cane in countries including Brazil, South Africa, Australia, Russia and Ukraine. Caleb Parke, Fox News, "Harvard's billion-dollar global farmland investments under fire from activists," 12 Sep. 2018 The low growl of sugar cane being crushed into liquid can be heard at Havana Juice. Priya Krishna, New York Times, "A Global Feast in an Unlikely Spot: Lancaster, Pa.," 23 July 2019 The White Sox’ James McCann, who at 29 hobbled to media day with the help of a cane, grew up watching players such as Jamie Moyer, who last appeared in a game at 49, in 2012; baseball has not seen a player that elderly since. Stephanie Apstein,, "25 Going on 40: Baseball's Youth Movement Has Taken Over the All-Star Game," 9 July 2019 For the first minute of the duet, things seem to be running smoothly — Sal is crooning away to the classic tune as Heidi descends from the ceiling sitting on top of a large candy cane. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Watch 'America's Got Talent' Judge Heidi Klum Fall in This Resurfaced "Santa Baby" Clip," 19 Dec. 2018 Sugar cane and other farming led to phosphate pollution, which changed the region’s flora. Gena Steffens, Smithsonian, "The Snakes That Ate Florida," 11 July 2019

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

13 Aug 2019

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
: 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

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).


to shake or wave menacingly

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