can·​non | \ ˈka-nən How to pronounce cannon (audio) \
plural cannons or cannon

Definition of cannon

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 plural usually cannon
a : a large, heavy gun usually mounted on a carriage
b : a heavy-caliber automatic aircraft gun firing explosive shells
c : any device for propelling a substance or object at high speeds an air cannon a T-shirt cannon — see also water cannon
2 or canon : the projecting part of a bell by which it is hung : ear
3 : the part of the leg in which the cannon bone is found
4 sports, informal : a very strong throwing arm While Hershberger had a quick, accurate arm, Lombardi had a cannon.— William Nack a shortstop with a cannon arm


cannoned; cannoning; cannons

Definition of cannon (Entry 2 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to discharge cannon


biographical name
Can·​non | \ ˈka-nən How to pronounce Cannon (audio) \

Definition of Cannon (Entry 3 of 3)

Joseph Gurney 1836–1926 Uncle Joe American politician

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What is the difference between cannon and canon?


Cannon and canon are occasionally confused by writers, but the two words have independent origins, and do not share a meaning. Cannon is most frequently found used in the sense of "a large gun," and can be traced to the Old Italian word cannone, which means "large tube." Canon, however, comes from the Greek word kanōn, meaning "rule." Although canon has a variety of meanings, it is most often found in the senses of "a rule or law of a church," "an accepted rule," or "a sanctioned or accepted group or body of related works." A loose cannon is "a dangerously uncontrollable person or thing." There are no loose canons.

Examples of cannon in a Sentence

Verb The ball cannoned off the goalpost and into the net.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Although the ship would want to reserve as much internal volume as possible for cannon ammunition, the Navy could find the room for a missile silos, each carrying a Tomahawk land attack cruise missile. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Army's Mind-Bending 1,000-Mile Cannon Is Coming. Could It Bring Back Battleships?," 16 Oct. 2020 Or ride onto the Michigan State basketball court astride a cannon. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "Why Tom Izzo is perfect coach for Michigan State basketball's highly anticipated, yet uncertain season," 15 Oct. 2020 On the upper decks, sailors stood taut as the camera ogled the vessel’s 76mm cannon. Cecilia D'anastasio, Wired, "Amazon Wants to ‘Win at Games.’ So Why Hasn’t It?," 7 Oct. 2020 My great-grandmother was 4 years old on Dec. 7, 1864, living with her mother and two siblings in Hastings when her father, James Payton, was killed by a Confederate cannon ball. Star Tribune, "Readers Write: Trump's Civil War comments, Walz and COVID, Catholicism, old buses," 25 Sep. 2020 The cannonball is known as a bar-shot — two shots joined by a solid bar and designed to shear masts off of ships, Alkire explained, immobilizing them for another volley of cannon-fire. James Whitlow,, "Cannonball possibly dating back to 1800s and designed for naval warfare found in Bel Air," 23 Sep. 2020 Pumpkin patch, corn maze, pedal tractors, pumpkin cannon, petting zoo, giant pumpkin jump pad and more. Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, "List: Pumpkin patches open for business in Cincinnati area," 30 Sep. 2020 The group set up their cannon on the opposite side of the stadium and fired it several times, eliciting a loud boom and huge puff of smoke after each shot. Kristie Rieken, Star Tribune, "COVID-19 forces Texas A&M to keep fans out of Midnight Yell," 26 Sep. 2020 Communication Rena Philips said Murphy is also not endorsing or sponsoring the painting of the cannon. Ben Thomas |, al, "COVID-19 will keep Murphy, McGill-Toolen fans from historic cannon celebration," 24 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The cost per shot is cheap, as the ammunition is technically just electricity generated on the spot and not a missile or even cannon round built in a factory and shipped to the battlefield. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "So...Should We Put Lasers on Tanks?," 19 Mar. 2020 Jesse Lingard's toe-poke cannoned back out off the post..., "Twitter Reacts as Woeful Man Utd Hold on to Earn First Away Win Since March," 24 Oct. 2019 Up stepped Van Nistelrooy, but his effort cannoned off the bar., "Manchester United vs Arsenal: 8 Classic Clashes Ahead of Monday's Premier League Game," 28 Sep. 2019 Stefano Sabelli let rip from range, but his shot cannoned off Ricardo Rodriguez and seemed destined to find its way into the back of the net., "7 of the Best Moments From Another Incredible Weekend of Serie A Football," 3 Sep. 2019 Pavel Florin gets backing from Shane Warne A race to be fit Scans later showed no fracture to Smith's arm but the 92mph bouncer that cannoned into the Australian's neck turned out to have had a more lasting effect. Ben Morse, CNN, "Steve Smith's concussion raises troubling memories for Australian cricket," 19 Aug. 2019 His attempt cannoned off the post; England took a sigh of relief but there was plenty of work still to do., "UEFA European Under-21 Championship Roundup: Croatia Slump Against Romania & England Lose Late On," 19 June 2019 Fragments can cannon about above the Earth’s atmosphere for centuries — striking other satellites, and adding their wreckage to the deadly debris fields. Jamie Seidel, Fox News, "Russia accused of testing a 'killer satellite' in orbit," 16 Aug. 2018 His third and final goal had more than a slice of luck to it, as Ruben Loftus-Cheek's effort from outside of the box cannoned into the back of his right foot and looped into the net., "Fans Vote England's Harry Kane as Man of the Moment After Treble in Spectacular Win Over Panama," 25 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cannon.' 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 cannon


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1567, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for cannon


Middle English canon, from Anglo-French, from Old Italian cannone, literally, large tube, augmentative of canna reed, tube, from Latin, cane, reed — more at cane

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Time Traveler for cannon

Time Traveler

The first known use of cannon was in the 15th century

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Statistics for cannon

Last Updated

28 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cannon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for cannon


How to pronounce Cannon (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cannon

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a large gun that shoots heavy metal or stone balls and that was once a common military weapon
: a large automatic gun that is shot from an aircraft



English Language Learners Definition of cannon (Entry 2 of 2)

British : to suddenly and forcefully hit or move into or against someone or something


can·​non | \ ˈka-nən How to pronounce cannon (audio) \
plural cannons or cannon

Kids Definition of cannon

: a large heavy weapon consisting mostly of a metal tube that is mounted on wheels and is used for firing cannonballs


can·​non | \ ˈkan-ən How to pronounce cannon (audio) \

Medical Definition of cannon

: the part of the leg in which the cannon bone is found

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