Definition: Cannon

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Attested from around 1400 as Middle English canon, canoun, from Old French canon, from Italian cannone, from Latin canna, from Ancient Greek κάννα or kánna (reed), from Akkadian 𒄀 or qanû (reed), from Sumerian 𒄀𒈾 or Doublet of canyon. This spelling was not fixed until about 1800.


cannon (countable and uncountable, plural cannons)

  1. A complete assembly, consisting of an artillery tube and a breech mechanism, firing mechanism or base cap, which is a component of a gun, howitzer, or mortar. It may include muzzle appendages.
  2. Any similar device for shooting material out of a tube.
    Water cannons, glitter cannons, confetti cannons, and potato cannons.
    1. (military, chiefly aviation) An autocannon.
  3. A bone of a horse's leg, between the fetlock joint and the knee or hock.
  4. A cannon bit.
  5. (historical) A large muzzle-loading artillery piece.
  6. (sports, billiards, snooker, pool) A carom.
    In English billiards, a cannon is when one's cue ball strikes the other player's cue ball and the red ball on the same shot; and it is worth two points.
  7. (engineering) A hollow cylindrical piece carried by a revolving shaft, on which it may, however, revolve independently.
  8. (historical) A cylindrical item of plate armor protecting the arm, particularly one of a pair of such cylinders worn with a couter, the upper cannon protecting the upper arm and the lower cannon protecting the forearm.
  9. (xiangqi) A piece which moves horizontally and vertically like a rook but captures another piece by jumping over a different piece in the line of attack.

Derived terms

  • autocannon
  • cannonade
  • cannonball
  • cannon bit
  • cannon bone
  • cannoneer
  • cannon shot
  • hand cannon
  • water cannon


cannon (third-person singular simple present cannons, present participle cannoning, simple past and past participle cannoned)

  1. To bombard with cannons.
  2. (sports, billiards, snooker, pool) To play the carom billiard shot; to strike two balls with the cue ball.
    The white cannoned off the red onto the pink.
  3. To fire something, especially spherical, rapidly.
  4. To collide or strike violently, especially so as to glance off or rebound.


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