chi·​cane | \ shi-ˈkān How to pronounce chicane (audio) , chi- \
chicaned; chicaning

Definition of chicane

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to use chicanery a wretch he had taught to lie and chicane— George Meredith



Definition of chicane (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : chicanery
2a : an obstacle on a racecourse
b : a series of tight turns in opposite directions in an otherwise straight stretch of a road-racing course
3 : the absence of trumps in a hand of cards

Did you know?


There's no mystery about the origins of chicane. It's from the Middle French verb chicaner, meaning "to quibble" or "to prevent justice," and print evidence of its use as a verb in English dates to around 1672. The noun form of chicane was first used in print in 1686. In addition to referring to "trickery," the noun chicane is used to refer to an obstacle or a series of tight turns in opposite directions on a racecourse. In card games, chicane refers to the absence of trumps in a hand of cards. One curiosity of this word set is that the word that would appear to be a derivative of chicane-chicanery (a synonym of chicane in its "trickery" sense)-actually appeared in English over 60 years before chicane.

Examples of chicane in a Sentence

Verb a lawyer who is so notorious for chicaning that the guilty invariably seek his services Noun most get-rich-quick schemes involve more than a smidgen of chicane
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Meanwhile, the turn 14-15 chicane has an uphill approach, with a crest in the middle, and then drops down on exit. Bill Springer, Forbes, 30 Apr. 2022 Those two, along with polesitter Palou and Rossi, ran through a runoff chicane the series set up for precisely that purpose, but were sent to the back by race control with cars who stayed on-track given positioning priority. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 12 Sep. 2021 The two then raced fiercely through the troublesome chicane and onto Hulman Boulevard. Rob Peeters, The Indianapolis Star, 15 Aug. 2021 On Sunday, drivers were having trouble with the chicane in the back-to-back fifth and sixth turns. Michael Marot, ajc, 16 Aug. 2021 However, the story of the day was the turn 5-6 chicane. Rob Peeters, The Indianapolis Star, 15 Aug. 2021 However, the story of the day was the turn 5-6 chicane. Rob Peeters, USA TODAY, 15 Aug. 2021 Throughout the race, drivers had trouble with the chicane in the back-to-back fifth and sixth turns. San Francisco Chronicle, 15 Aug. 2021 Track workers, who had been tending to the chicane throughout the race, eventually removed it and towed it away as fans cheered., 15 Aug. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chicane.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of chicane


circa 1671, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


1683, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for chicane


borrowed from French chicaner "to dispute by means of quibbles, raise issues with minor points of law in order to complicate a judicial suit," going back to Middle French, "to sue, prosecute," perhaps a blend of the Gallo-Romance expressive base čik- expressing diminutiveness (as in Old Occitan chic "small," French chiquet "small piece") and ricaner "to snicker, laugh affectedly or contemptuously," going back to Middle French, "to bray," probably alteration (by association with rire "to laugh") of Old French (Norman) recaner, rechaner "to bray," from re- re- + -caner, derivative of cane "tooth," going back to Old Low Franconian *kinni- "cheek," going back to Germanic *kinnu- — more at chin entry 1


borrowed from French, "quibble on a minor point of law brought up to complicate a judicial case," noun derivative of chicaner "to raise issues with minor points of law" — more at chicane entry 1

Learn More About chicane

Time Traveler for chicane

Time Traveler

The first known use of chicane was circa 1671

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About chicane

Dictionary Entries Near chicane




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for chicane

Cite this Entry

“Chicane.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

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!