can·​ti·​le·​ver | \ˈkan-tə-ˌlē-vər, -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


The porch is supported by steel cantilevers.


The balcony cantilevers over the terrace below.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

To make their qubit immune to strain, the researchers created a tiny little cantilever sitting just above it. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Straining a diamond makes silicon-based qubit behave," 20 Sep. 2018 The open season for air tours dovetailed nicely with the completion in 2007 of the glass cantilever Skywalk bridge that juts 70 feet over the West Rim’s Eagle Point. Annette Mcgivney, Outside Online, "300 Flights Through the Grand Canyon's Helicopter Alley," 24 May 2018 Inspired by the conifer tree, the 2,062-square-foot three-bed-three-bath boasts a dynamic geometric construction of multiple structures, cantilevers, walkways, and soaring interiors that opens onto views of the surrounding landscape. Lauren Ro, Curbed, "Modern treehouse with stunning mountain views wants $775K," 20 Apr. 2018 Almost treehouse like in its aesthetics, the 2,391-square-foot four-bedroom boasts a series of decks, balconies, walkways, cantilevers, and staircases that creates a dynamic space both inside and out. Lauren Ro, Curbed, "Incredible midcentury home by Joseph Esherick wants $2M outside San Francisco," 10 Apr. 2018 Slender brick cladding underscores the pavilion’s long horizontal spans and extended cantilevers on either end. Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, "Charleston Needs That African American Museum. And Now.," 28 Mar. 2018 The living room ceiling, which extends to the outdoors and cantilevers over the home, is cedar. Roxanne Washington,, "Cool Spaces: Mark and Beth Nuss enjoying their energy-efficient 'Prairie' home in Bainbridge: photos," 15 Mar. 2018 The advent of cantilever homes in the 1950s led to a growth spurt in Montecito Heights, as previously undevelopable hillside view tracts began to sprout houses on stilts. Scott Garner,, "Neighborhood Spotlight: Montecito Heights finds itself at a crossroad," 9 Mar. 2018 With several unsupported cantilevers, or projecting beams, only a material with incredibly high tensile strength would hold up. Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics, "The Rock Solid History of Concrete," 12 Oct. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The house is raised on a pedestal with redwood beams that cantilever out from below on all four sides and on top to hold up the roof, giving it a floating illusion. Nancy Keates, WSJ, "Revitalizing a Michigan Midcentury Marvel," 15 Nov. 2018 Capital Hill boasts Hadid’s signature elements—swopping curves, cantilevering roof overhangs, and glass expanses, to name a few—but the home as a whole is a unique experience. Lauren Ro, Curbed, "Zaha Hadid’s only private residence is finally complete," 13 Apr. 2018 Orange and yellow color blocks accent the paneled and glazed facade, lending it a vintage vibe, while cantilevering volumes add lightness. Lauren Ro, Curbed, "Groovy midcentury home with original retro details wants $600K," 25 May 2018 The penthouse is roughly 5,820 square feet with a 2,283-square-foot cantilevered terrace. Katherine Clarke, WSJ, "Downtown New York Penthouse Asks $37.5 Million," 3 July 2018 Sven’s head pivots by a linkage system connected to the performer’s head and body; the weight of his head is cantilevered away from the performer’s neck by a custom orthopedic back brace. Michael Paulson, New York Times, "The Secret Life of Sven," 26 June 2018 To the north, where the facade meets Milan’s skyline and becomes mostly glass, cantilevering over the street, the block breaks into a zigzag of shifting floor plates, rectangles and trapezoids, the whole building wedged onto a triangular plot. Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, "Shape-Shifting Art Tower Completes Prada’s City Within a City," 15 June 2018 Measuring 3,553 square feet, the custom house features an elegant construction characterized by long, clean lines, stone and glass facade, and a cantilevering second-story balcony. Lauren Ro, Curbed, "Untouched ’60s home with great views wants $1.1M in Salt Lake City," 13 Apr. 2018 The Pacific Crest Trail Association studied a number of ideas, including a standalone pedestrian bridge and even a ferry service, before settling on having a pedestrian-bike lane cantilevered onto the existing span, Hendricks said. Jeff Manning,, "Northwest delegation flocks to back Bridge of the Gods plan," 25 Apr. 2018

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 3 + -i- + lever

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Last Updated

19 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for cantilever

The first known use of cantilever was in 1667

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More Definitions for cantilever



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, -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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Comments on cantilever

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


by force of circumstances

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