1 of 2

noun (1)

can·​ton ˈkan-tᵊn How to pronounce canton (audio)
: a small territorial division of a country: such as
: one of the states of the Swiss confederation
: a division of a French arrondissement
cantonal adjective


2 of 2

noun (2)

obsolete : division, section
: the top inner quarter of a flag
: the dexter chief region of a heraldic field

Examples of canton in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Hiker, 29, Found Dead 3 Months After Going Missing While Camping in Switzerland Police confirmed the hikers were from the Switzerland canton of Valais area and aged from 21 to 58 years old. Escher Walcott, Peoplemag, 11 Mar. 2024 The pensions boost saw particularly strong backing in French- and Italian-speaking cantons, while voters in the bigger German-speaking part were more skeptical, according to government data. Bastian Benrath, Fortune Europe, 3 Mar. 2024 Despite being home to household names in the pharmaceutical industry like Roche and Novartis, the Swiss are prone to questioning authorities outside their own canton and this skepticism is also seen in their relationship to vaccinations. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 5 Oct. 2021 The accident occurred in Switzerland's canton of Uri shortly before noon. Morgan Winsor, ABC News, 25 Mar. 2021 The only thing more Swiss than New Glarus, in fact, is the original Old World canton of Glarus itself. Raphael Kadushin, National Geographic, 7 Aug. 2020 This unheralded, traditional village -- first settled in the 11th century by Walser people from the Swiss canton Wallis (or Valais) -- offers good value for money and quiet slopes away from the rat runs of the Arlberg. Rob Hodgetts, CNN, 14 Feb. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'canton.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun (1)

Middle French, from Italian cantone, from canto corner, from Latin canthus iron tire — more at cant entry 4

Noun (2)

Middle French, from Old Occitan, from cant edge, corner, from Latin canthus

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1522, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1572, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of canton was in 1522

Dictionary Entries Near canton

Cite this Entry

“Canton.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a division of a country (as Switzerland)
: the top inner quarter of a flag

Geographical Definition


geographical name

Can·​ton ˈkan-tᵊn How to pronounce Canton (audio)
city in northeastern Ohio south-southeast of Akron population 73,007
see guangzhou

More from Merriam-Webster on canton

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