can·​ti·​le·​ver | \ ˈkan-tə-ˌlē-vər How to pronounce cantilever (audio) , -ˌle- \

Definition of cantilever

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a projecting beam or member supported at only one end: such as
a : a bracket-shaped member supporting a balcony or a cornice
b : either of the two beams or trusses that project from piers toward each other and that when joined directly or by a suspended connecting member form a span of a cantilever bridge


cantilevered; cantilevering; cantilevers

Definition of cantilever (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to support by a cantilever a cantilevered shelf
2 : to build as a cantilever

intransitive verb

: to project as a cantilever

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Did You Know?

Cantilevers hold up a surface or room without themselves being supported at their outer end. Many outdoor balconies are cantilevered, and theater balconies may be as well. A cantilevered bridge may have a huge span (as long as 1,800 feet) built out on either side of a single large foundation pier. Architects sometimes use cantilevered construction to produce dramatic effects; Frank Lloyd Wright's "Fallingwater" house, which extends out over a rocky river, is a famous example. But the Grand Canyon's "Skywalk" has become perhaps the best-known piece of cantilevered construction in America.

Examples of cantilever in a Sentence

Noun The porch is supported by steel cantilevers. Verb The balcony cantilevers over the terrace below.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Silver has an old-school humpback design (which has since been reintroduced on the Browning A-5) and is available with a cantilever scope mount and rifled slug barrel. Curtis Niedermier, Outdoor Life, "The 15 Best Shotguns for Deer Hunting," 18 Nov. 2019 Mossberg makes a variety of Slugster models and configurations in 12 and 20 gauge, with rifle sights or cantilever scope mounts, synthetic or wood stocks. Curtis Niedermier, Outdoor Life, "The 15 Best Shotguns for Deer Hunting," 18 Nov. 2019 The city is planning a $1.7 billion project to rebuild an adjacent stretch of the B.Q.E., which includes a cantilever structure that is the engineering equivalent of a triple-decker sandwich. James Barron, New York Times, "$7.5 Million ‘Down the Drain’: The Demise of the Bouncing Bridge," 29 Oct. 2019 The engineers chose a complex cantilever design, a cutting-edge approach but a cost-efficient one too. Wired, "It’s Time to Push Tech Forward, and Rebuild What It Broke," 15 Oct. 2019 In Stoller’s picture, the cantilever points directly out toward you. Thomas De Monchaux, The New Yorker, "Ezra Stoller Turned Buildings Into Monuments," 6 Oct. 2019 But the showstopper of the winery isn’t just the wine but a cantilever barn, built by 40 men in one single day during 1861. Mary Ann Anderson,, "Old-fashioned road trip leads to East Tennessee culinary gems," 30 Aug. 2019 At the shoreline a large deck cantilevers over the water. Judy Rose, Detroit Free Press, "Large West Bloomfield lake home has everything, including your own boat," 24 Aug. 2019 Arianespace has also finished adaptations to the existing Vega launch complex in French Guiana, including mobile gantry cantilever reinforcements, platform shutters, and a new overhead traveling crane that will enable Vega-C missions. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: A Yellow Sea launch, SpaceX’s upcoming high-value mission," 7 June 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Today, Remington offers nearly every slug gun configuration imaginable, from rifled barrels with open sights and standard stocks, to cantilever scope mounts and thumbhole stocks. Curtis Niedermier, Outdoor Life, "The 15 Best Shotguns for Deer Hunting," 18 Nov. 2019 In the new configuration, a canopy, sleek as a knife, now cantilevers over the 53rd Street sidewalk to signal more clearly the museum’s presence. Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, "With a $450 Million Expansion, MoMA Is Bigger. Is That Better?," 9 Oct. 2019 After a Champagne reception at the Met, everyone climbed the theater’s red-carpeted, cantilevered stairs to find their seats beneath the twinkling Swarovski sputnik chandeliers. Vogue, "Laverne Cox, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and More Spent the Night at the Opera for the Met’s Premiere of “Porgy and Bess”," 25 Sep. 2019 But here, at one end, the wooden box is prodigiously cantilevered some eight feet past its stone foundation wall. Thomas De Monchaux, The New Yorker, "Ezra Stoller Turned Buildings Into Monuments," 6 Oct. 2019 But while cruising along a quiet country road in Stroudsburg one day, Mr. Bonetti looked up and saw something that would drastically change their plans: a long, boxy modernist house cantilevered off the side of a hill. Tim Mckeough, New York Times, "A Place to Experiment in the Poconos," 28 Feb. 2018 The sculpture is a large striped bass (rockfish) made of highly reflective stainless steel that will be cantilevered over a portion of the signature sidewalk in Concord Point Park. Erika Butler,, "Havre de Grace to host first Waterfront Festival with public art unveiling, fireworks," 22 Aug. 2019 The controversy, which should never have occurred, should have been over, but the Democrats have managed to cantilever themselves two more steps out on the limb that protrudes over the political abyss. Conrad Black, National Review, "Trump: A Brief History Thereof," 1 Aug. 2019 His flat-roofed midcentury modern, acquired in 2012 for $10 million, is treacherously cantilevered over a craggy, near-sheer bluff and graced with spectacular views of the bay. Variety, The Mercury News, "Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey scoops up $22 million San Francisco house next door," 5 June 2019

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


1667, in the meaning defined above


1902, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for cantilever


perhaps from cant entry 4 + -i- + lever

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Time Traveler for cantilever

Time Traveler

The first known use of cantilever was in 1667

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Statistics for cantilever

Last Updated

12 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cantilever.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for cantilever


How to pronounce cantilever (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cantilever

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a long piece of wood, metal, etc., that sticks out from a wall or other structure to support something above it (such as a balcony or bridge)



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

: to support (something) with a cantilever
of a structure : to extend out over an area


can·​ti·​le·​ver | \ ˈkan-tə-ˌlē-vər How to pronounce cantilever (audio) , -ˌle- \

Kids Definition of cantilever

1 : a beam or similar support fastened (as by being built into a wall) only at one end The balcony is supported by wooden cantilevers.
2 : either of two structures that stick out from piers toward each other and when joined form a span in a bridge ( cantilever bridge )

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More from Merriam-Webster on cantilever

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cantilever

Spanish Central: Translation of cantilever

Nglish: Translation of cantilever for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about cantilever

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