loose cannon


: a dangerously uncontrollable person or thing

Example Sentences

a politician who is regarded as a loose cannon by her colleagues
Recent Examples on the Web Martin Riggs, the loose cannon with revenge on his mind, and Roger Murtaugh, the older, wiser man of the force, counting the days until retirement. Kayt Sukel, Discover Magazine, 27 July 2016 Already identified as the loose cannon, Fred starts picking fights with Charlie about his devout faith, then learns it’s unwise to blaspheme to a Christian who makes your beans every night. John Defore, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Sep. 2022 Everyone tiptoed around Diana, concerned that the unpredictable princess, referred to as a loose cannon, would further damage the already listing institution. Simon Perry, Peoplemag, 18 Nov. 2022 Often caricatured as a loose cannon, Hoover was actually the consummate cautious bureaucrat, Gage says, the keeper of the files — an uptight, puritanical librarian. Washington Post Editors And Reviewers, Washington Post, 17 Nov. 2022 No loose cannon, Hoover was actually the consummate cautious bureaucrat, the keeper of the files — really more of an uptight, puritanical librarian. Kai Bird, Washington Post, 9 Nov. 2022 That Draymond was the loose cannon on the Golden State Warriors. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, 25 Sep. 2022 Key to this feat is the Wanderer, a loose cannon of a character played by Caplan (who may be better known as lead singer of the folk band Ben Caplan & the Casual Smokers). Celia Wren, Washington Post, 12 Sep. 2022 Since then, O’Donnell seems to have involved herself in one kerfuffle after another as a kind of notorious loose cannon, on both television and social media. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, 7 Sep. 2022 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1889, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of loose cannon was in 1889

Dictionary Entries Near loose cannon

Cite this Entry

“Loose cannon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/loose%20cannon. Accessed 30 Jan. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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