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

Keep scrolling for more

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 After trying to force the militia to disband and surrender its weapons in court, one of the white travelers returned on the day of the hearing with more than 200 men and a cannon. Christopher Frear, Smithsonian Magazine, "Meet Joseph Rainey, the First Black Congressman," 5 Jan. 2021 The trumpeters, drummers and bagpipers, the confetti cannon, the knights, sheep, jesters and big birthday cake will all be present and accounted for. Doug Maccash | Staff Writer,, "COVID-era Mardi Gras season kicks off with stationary Joan of Arc parade on the west bank," 30 Dec. 2020 Kite-flying was held in 1900, as was ballooning and cannon shooting. Michael Taube, WSJ, "Breakdancing Comes to the Olympics," 23 Dec. 2020 The cannon produces 130 decibels of sound similar to a shotgun, the town said. Allen Kim, CNN, "A small town in North Carolina is installing a cannon to get rid of vultures," 17 Dec. 2020 The monument replaced a Civil War cannon that mysteriously disappeared from the plot in the 1980s, Everett said. Susan Degrane,, "‘There’s a lot of history here’: Three-generation effort at Mount Greenwood Cemetery marks veterans’ graves going back to Civil War," 11 Dec. 2020 For one, there's his loose-cannon presence on Twitter. Naomi Xu Elegant, Fortune, "Elon Musk is on a tear. Can he keep it up?," 3 Dec. 2020 Iron was not new, but the idea that manufacturers could churn out cheap cast-iron pots, stoves, and cannon was. Daniel Immerwahr, The New Republic, "How Trees Made Us Human," 1 Dec. 2020 Load that cannon and pop him behind the boss in the back of his head. Robert Ruark, Field & Stream, "F&S Classics: Suicide Made Easy," 1 Dec. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cannon

Time Traveler for cannon

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for cannon

Last Updated

14 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cannon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on cannon

What made you want to look up cannon? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!