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 We were shot out of the cannon at the exact same time, on that Thursday-night lineup. Jackson Mchenry, Vulture, 1 Oct. 2021 His late-1990s ad for an internet retailer showed fake gerbils being blasted out of a cannon. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, 30 Sep. 2021 Some of Finley’s throws looked like they were shot out of a cannon. Joseph Goodman |, al, 26 Sep. 2021 There are few things as archetypal in the cannon of Texan cooking as Texas sheet cake. Claire Ballor, Dallas News, 30 Sep. 2021 Woken with a punch and a telling-off by her loose-cannon sister, Vicki (Ilinca Neacsu), she is propelled directly into a typical day of familial discord. Guy Lodge, Variety, 30 Sep. 2021 The cannon has a 2-foot-long cylinder with a wider opening at the front chamber where the ball is placed. Eric Niiler, Wired, 29 Sep. 2021 President Biden wasted no time leveling the regulatory cannon at the oil and gas industry after moving into the White House. Dan Eberhart, Forbes, 14 Sep. 2021 As the loose-cannon heroine, Arabella, Coel explores a torrent of emotions with a fearless delicacy that is beautiful to watch and painful to absorb. San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Sep. 2021 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, 19 Mar. 2020 Jesse Lingard's toe-poke cannoned back out off the post..., 24 Oct. 2019 Up stepped Van Nistelrooy, but his effort cannoned off the bar., 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., 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, 19 Aug. 2019 His attempt cannoned off the post; England took a sigh of relief but there was plenty of work still to do., 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, 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., 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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Last Updated

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cannon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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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 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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