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 Check out Geissele Automatics Super Precision mounts, Badger Ordnance Condition One, or one of the factory cantilever mounts from Vortex. Chris Mudgett, Outdoor Life, "The Best Aftermarket Modifications to Make to Your AR-15," 19 Nov. 2020 Slide-out stands are easy to stow during transit and take only seconds to set up as reinforcement to the slider’s native cantilever system. The Editors, Outdoor Life, "3 Ways to Level Any Camper, Truck, or RV," 11 Nov. 2020 Rather, the standard would be offset from the shelf's end, giving each shelf a pleasing cantilever about six inches long. Ryan D'agostino, Popular Mechanics, "A Well-Lit Workshop: How To Turn Your Basement Into a DIY Utopia," 31 Oct. 2020 Part of the lounge juts out from the rest of the Larson Center as a cantilever above the service road. Star Tribune, "The Gophers’ game changer," 5 Aug. 2020 Inspired by the frame of a bicycle, Breuer crafted the cantilever base using tubular steel, an innovative material not typically used in furniture design at the time. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, "This Year's Trendiest Chair Is Nearly a Century Old But You Can Snag One Now for Less," 11 Aug. 2020 The property is just down the tracks from the 112-year-old cantilever bridge it's named for, now the busiest rail border crossing in North America. Brooks Johnson, Star Tribune, "Cantilever Distillery putting small Minnesota town on the map," 8 Aug. 2020 The cantilever was designed to reach out to its predecessor, tipping its hat. Steve Brown, Dallas News, "New 17-story tower on the way at Plano’s $3 billion Legacy West development," 4 May 2020 Also, the design, by Kahler Slater, includes cantilevers that replace traditional columns at the corners — which removes obstructions of views of Milwaukee's skyline and better shows off the curved corner windows. Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Mark Irgens shows off Milwaukee's newest office tower -- as pandemic brings big concerns for developers," 27 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The fashion for tight bodices that cantilevered breasts into a position where the nipple might be visible proved popular. Rosalind Jana,, "The Nipple’s Place In Fashion History," 14 May 2020 In the financial district, in a building designed by Sir David Adjaye, the kitchen islands will be made from two rough slabs of stone, one cantilevered over the other — the only things missing are hunks of meat and some Argentine gauchos. New York Times, "Cook Like a Scullery Maid on ‘Downton Abbey’," 5 Nov. 2019 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

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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Cite this Entry

“Cantilever.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2021.

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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 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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