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

intransitive verb

: to use chicanery
a wretch he had taught to lie and chicaneGeorge Meredith


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: an obstacle on a racecourse
: a series of tight turns in opposite directions in an otherwise straight stretch of a road-racing course
: 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
While the front straight is dry, rain begins pouring down at the Mulsanne chicane on the back end of the track. Caleb Miller, Car and Driver, 12 June 2023 With a course nearly entirely full of 90-degree turns, minus one chicane and one hairpin, drivers had initially eyed the end of the long straightaway down Jefferson Avenue (between Turns 2 and 3) to be Detroit’s lone reliable passing zone. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 3 June 2023 The IndyCar field is yet to make it through the track’s starting chicane in Turns 1-3 intact in the three races since the series returned to Portland International Raceway in 2018. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 2 Sep. 2022 For Sunday, IndyCar moved the acceleration zone back to the exit of Turn 12 to try and spread the field out for that tight left-hander that leads into a quick three-turn chicane. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 5 Sep. 2022 The second is a chicane or a diversion. Curbed, 21 Dec. 2022 The end of the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course featured a major incident when part of the curb in the turns 5-6 chicane came up and destroyed multiple race cars. Rob Peeters, The Indianapolis Star, 15 Aug. 2021 Actual look-at-me styling, deft handling, no longer a moving chicane. Dan Edmunds, Car and Driver, 14 Dec. 2022 Leclerc crossed the line in second place, but the Monegasque was handed a five-second penalty for cutting the final chicane in a battle with Red Bull’s other driver, Sergio Perez, which dropped him to third. Sahil Kapur, NBC News, 10 Oct. 2022 See More

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

Word History



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

First Known Use


circa 1671, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


1683, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of chicane was circa 1671


Dictionary Entries Near chicane

Cite this Entry

“Chicane.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

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