\ 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 The first planting was a stand of cane only 125 feet long. New York Times, "Reviving a Crop and an African-American Culture, Stalk by Stalk," 8 Dec. 2020 Decades of drug and alcohol abuse, in addition to other ailments, had left him shuffling with the help of a cane, his speech a barely-comprehensible mumble. Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times, "Soccer newsletter: Remembering Diego Maradona," 1 Dec. 2020 Kaavan was diagnosed earlier this year as being dangerously overweight, owing to his unsuitable diet of around 550 pounds of sugar cane each day. NBC News, "'World's loneliest elephant' starts trip to sanctuary in Cambodia," 29 Nov. 2020 Previously, Kaavan was eating 250 kilograms (550 pounds) of pure sugar cane every day, with an occasional fruit and vegetable. Kathy Gannon,, "Cher in Pakistan to help ‘world’s loneliest elephant’," 27 Nov. 2020 Perry fearful of his life slunk from his house and crawled under a bunch of cane. Roger Simmons,, "Ocoee Massacre: How Orlando’s newspapers reported the death, destruction - from only one point of view," 29 Oct. 2020 The black bear was dead in a 20-foot-tall thicket of river cane, the reeds beat down in a wide circle, with the swarm of dogs going crazy over the mound of black hide. T. Edward Nickens, Field & Stream, "Hunting Black Bears with Hounds in the Famed Bruin Swamps of North Carolina," 7 Oct. 2020 Deputies took his cane, so getting around was difficult, Lantz said. Kelly Davis, San Diego Union-Tribune, "One inmate’s story: Cells piled with trash, violence and a pervasive fear of COVID-19," 13 Dec. 2020 In Guatemala, the peasants had struggled to provide for their children cutting sugar cane. New York Times, "As Biden Prepares to Take Office, a New Rush at the Border," 13 Dec. 2020 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

30 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cane.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for cane


How to pronounce cane (audio)

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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Comments on cane

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