can·non | \ ˈka-nən \
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 \

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


The ball cannoned off the goalpost and into the net.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Need a pheasant feather for your cap, peacock plumes for your Indian wedding or 5 pounds of turkey feathers for your disco cannon? Anne Kadet, WSJ, "‘Odd Couple’ Mark 100 Years of Putting Feathers in Others’ Caps," 10 July 2018 Mertens ran through the right channel and pulled the ball back into Hazard on the edge of the box, but the Chelsea man was unfortunate to see his strike cannon off the post., "Belgium 3-2 Japan: Red Devils Secure Place in Last 8 After Amazing Comeback Win," 2 July 2018 In the end, RuPaul declared Instagram star Aquaria, who came to the lip sync prepared with confetti cannons, the winner of season 10. Patrick Crowley, Billboard, "'RuPaul's Drag Race': 5 Memorable Moments From Season 10 Finale," 28 June 2018 Lusardi said the Griffon, which had huge sails and bronze cannons, likely encountered a storm and sank either in Lake Michigan or Lake Huron. Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press, "8 undiscovered shipwrecks of the Great Lakes," 22 June 2018 Hardegen was close enough to see their faces, according to a subsequent account in the Orlando Sentinel, and positioned his submarine between the beach and the crippled ship to fire shells from his deck cannon, sinking the Gulfamerica. Washington Post,, "Reinhard Hardegen, U-boat commander who menaced American shores, dies at 105," 19 June 2018 Hardegen was close enough to see their faces, according to a subsequent account in the Orlando Sentinel, and positioned his submarine between the beach and the crippled ship to fire shells from his deck cannon, sinking the Gulfamerica. Harrison Smith, Washington Post, "Reinhard Hardegen, U-boat commander who menaced American shores, dies at 105," 18 June 2018 Two cannon-like guns from the 1800s will be relocated from the War Garden at Woodland Park to Chehalis. Christine Clarridge, The Seattle Times, "Seattle war memorial to lose battle guns, drawing criticism even as city cites safety, costs," 18 June 2018 The cannon was captured 120 years ago in the Philippines, according to its inscription. Mary Carole Mccauley,, "Savoring the sweet taste of patriotism at Fourth of July parades around Baltimore," 4 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Chances were starting to dry up, but an Eriksen free kick found Jan Vertonghen - who's header cannoned off the post - and Kane couldn't sort his feet out quick enough to tuck into the empty net., "Tottenham Boosts Top-Four Standing, Beats Watford on Kane, Alli Goals," 30 Apr. 2018 In stoppage time Mateus Uribe fired a stinging shot from long range and Pickford leaped to keep it out with one outstretched hand, sending it wide of the goal and cannoning into the advertising boards. James Ellingworth, The Seattle Times, "Pickford the hero as England’s penalty curse ends," 3 July 2018 Hakan Calhanoglu also came close to stealing the lead for Milan, blasting one from several yards out following a breakaway, but his shot unluckily cannoned off the crossbar., "Juventus 3-1 Milan: Cuadrado & Khedira Break Rossoneri Hearts With Late Stunners at the Allianz," 31 Mar. 2018 The succession of niggling fouls had caused Watford's first-half domination to fall by the wayside and Luka Milivojevic almost made them pay - the midfielder's free kick cannoning back off the upright with Karnezis beaten., "Tense Contest Between Watford, Crystal Palace Ends in Stalemate," 21 Apr. 2018 Jesus had the chance to score from the spot in the second half but cannoned his effort off the inside of the post, with the rebound falling to his teammate Bernardo Silva to tap home., "'I’m Good at Penalties': Goal-Hungry Ederson Volunteers for Man City Spot Kick Duty," 24 Apr. 2018 Umtiti celebrated Barca's second goal at the Camp Nou by pulling at his badge and pointing to it after his shot had cannoned in off the post and then Roma's Kostas Manolas. Tom Allnutt,, "Umtiti: grabbing of badge was to show 'love' for Barcelona," 5 Apr. 2018 After firing home Liverpool's opener at 35 minutes with a perfect shot that cannoned in off the base of the crossbar and left goalkeeper Alisson no chance, Salah merely raised his hands to shoulder height as his teammates engulfed him. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Salah among world's best after two brilliant Liverpool goals, classy celebrations," 24 Apr. 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 intransitive 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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Statistics for cannon

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cannon

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

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More Definitions for cannon



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)

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


can·non | \ ˈka-nən \
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 \

Medical Definition of cannon 

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

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Comments on cannon

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an open space surrounded by woods

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