Definition of cancel in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkans(ə)l/

verb (cancels, cancelling, cancelled; US cancels, canceling, canceled)

[with object]
1Decide or announce that (a planned event) will not take place: he was forced to cancel his visit
More example sentences
  • Great Yorkshire Show organisers have denied any plans to cancel this year's event because of the foot and mouth crisis.
  • It was then decided in 2001 to cancel these annual events completely.
  • All political parties have decided to cancel all debate on the euro, but to proceed with the referendum.
call off, abandon, scrap, drop;
postpone, mothball
informal scrub, scratch, axe, nix
North American informal redline
1.1Annul or revoke (a formal arrangement which is in effect): his visa had been cancelled
More example sentences
  • The bank had agreed to keep the accounts separate, and if it wished to cancel this arrangement in view of the changed circumstances, it had to give notice to the customer.
  • You can cancel the arrangement at any time should your circumstances change.
  • Jefri would cancel the tender process if he found that companies were being manipulated by legislative council members.
annul, invalidate, nullify, declare null and void, render null and void, void;
revoke, rescind, retract, countermand, set aside, take back, withdraw, recall, repeal, overrule, override, abrogate, quash;
extinguish, remit, retire;
Law  vacate, discharge
rare disannul, negate
1.2Abolish or make void (a financial obligation): I intend to cancel your debt to me
More example sentences
  • Insurance underwriters have given notice that they will cancel war liabilities from midnight on Monday.
  • Faced with two debtors, neither of whom could repay the loan, the creditor decided to cancel both obligations.
  • Finally, the above classifications relate to promissory conditions but there may also be contingent conditions which either suspend or cancel contractual liability.
1.3Mark, pierce, or tear (a ticket or stamp) to show that it has been used or invalidated: cancelling stamps on registered mail
More example sentences
  • The check is then canceled and returned to the buyer.
2 (usually cancel something out) (Of a factor or circumstance) neutralize or negate the force or effect of (another): the electric fields may cancel each other out
More example sentences
  • Within two minutes the goal was cancelled out in extraordinary circumstances.
  • The only way in which the form of the laws of motion can remain the same for all observers in arbitrary accelerated motion relative to one another is if the gravitational force field exists to cancel them out.
  • I popped my head on the pillow early last night, feeling tired and jaded, and hoping that the negatives of the day would be cancelled out by a good night's sleep.
neutralize, counterbalance, counteract, balance (out), countervail;
negate, nullify, wipe out;
offset, compensate for, make up for
rare negative, counterweigh
2.1 Mathematics Delete (an equal factor) from both sides of an equation or from the numerator and denominator of a fraction: ‘Divide by 9’ cancels out ‘multiply by 9’
More example sentences
  • If both the numerator and denominator have common factors, then we can cancel these factors out.
  • All of the numerators will be factors of the numerator of the product and all of the denominators will be factors of the denominator of the product, so you can cancel out any factor of anything in a numerator with any factor of anything in a denominator.
  • Just as numbers cancel out when the same number is on the top and bottom of a fraction (2/2 = 2 ÷ 2 = 1), so do units cancel out if you have the same unit in the numerator and denominator.


1A mark made on a postage stamp to show that it has been used: a stamp franked and with an adhesive cancel
2 Printing A new page or section inserted in a book to replace the original text, typically to correct an error: [as modifier]: a cancel title page
More example sentences
  • He had followed exactly the same practice with the revised text of Winter and created the same effect by reissuing copies of Summer with a cancel title.



Example sentences
  • In California MSN didn't require cancellers to give the money back, so even though the law seems to say it could, it can't.
  • Maybe he will go down in history in a positive light for being the CSME canceller that turned out to be a huge fiasco for everyone except the Bahamas?
  • In software echo cancellers, the considerable CPU load that can be freed by echo detection is always immediately available to other processes, which in turn can increase the quality and capacity of the system significantly.


Late Middle English (in the sense 'obliterate or delete writing by drawing or stamping lines across it'): from Old French canceller, from Latin cancellare, from cancelli 'crossbars'.

  • The early sense was ‘obliterate or delete writing by drawing or stamping lines across it’, which, in legal contexts, rendered documents void. It is from Old French canceller, from Latin cancellare, from cancelli ‘crossbars, grating’ describing the shape of the lines.

Words that rhyme with cancel

hansel, Hänsel, Mansell

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: can¦cel

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