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can·​non ˈka-nən How to pronounce cannon (audio)
plural cannons or cannon
plural usually cannon
: a large, heavy gun usually mounted on a carriage
: a heavy-caliber automatic aircraft gun firing explosive shells
: any device for propelling a substance or object at high speeds
an air cannon
a T-shirt cannon
see also water cannon
or canon : the projecting part of a bell by which it is hung : ear
: the part of the leg in which the cannon bone is found
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


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cannoned; cannoning; cannons

intransitive verb

: to discharge cannon

Did you know?

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
O'Donnell said Tina Miser is one of only two women in the world who get shot out of a cannon in circuses. Amy Schwabe, Journal Sentinel, 10 May 2024 Among the stunts The Fall Guy wraps its romantic comedy around are high falls (those averse to heights may be uncomfortable watching Gosling swing from a helicopter), hand-to-hand combat and a world-record-breaking vehicular stunt involving a Jeep’s 8.5 cannon rolls, or head-over-head flips. Jack Smart, Peoplemag, 3 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for cannon 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cannon.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


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


1567, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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

Dictionary Entries Near cannon

Cite this Entry

“Cannon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


plural cannons or cannon
: a large heavy gun usually mounted on wheels
: an automatic gun of large caliber on an airplane

Medical Definition


can·​non ˈkan-ən How to pronounce cannon (audio)
: the part of the leg in which the cannon bone is found

Biographical Definition


biographical name

Can·​non ˈka-nən How to pronounce Cannon (audio)
Joseph Gurney 1836–1926 Uncle Joe American politician
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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