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[kan-suh l] /ˈkæn səl/
verb (used with object), canceled, canceling or (especially British) cancelled, cancelling.
to make void; revoke; annul:
to cancel a reservation.
to decide or announce that a planned event will not take place; call off:
to cancel a meeting.
to mark or perforate (a postage stamp, admission ticket, etc.) so as to render invalid for reuse.
to neutralize; counterbalance; compensate for:
His sincere apology canceled his sarcastic remark.
  1. to close (an account) by crediting or paying all outstanding charges:
    He plans to cancel his account at the department store.
  2. to eliminate or offset (a debit, credit, etc.) with an entry for an equal amount on the opposite side of a ledger, as when a payment is received on a debt.
Mathematics. to eliminate by striking out a factor common to both the denominator and numerator of a fraction, equivalent terms on opposite sides of an equation, etc.
to cross out (words, letters, etc.) by drawing a line over the item.
Printing. to omit.
verb (used without object), canceled, canceling or (especially British) cancelled, cancelling.
to counterbalance or compensate for one another; become neutralized (often followed by out):
The pros and cons cancel out.
Mathematics. (of factors common to both the denominator and numerator of a fraction, certain terms on opposite sides of an equation, etc.) to be equivalent; to allow cancellation.
an act of canceling.
Printing, Bookbinding.
  1. omission.
  2. a replacement for an omitted part.
Origin of cancel
1350-1400; Middle English cancellen < Medieval Latin cancellāre to cross out, Latin: to make like a lattice, derivative of cancellī grating, plural of cancellus; see cancellus
Related forms
cancelable; especially British, cancellable, adjective
canceler; especially British, canceller, noun
recancel, verb (used with object), recanceled, recanceling or (especially British) recancelled, recancelling.
self-canceled, adjective
self-cancelled, adjective
uncancelable, adjective
uncanceled, adjective
uncancellable, adjective
uncancelled, adjective
1. countermand, rescind.
Synonym Study
3, 7. Cancel, delete, erase, obliterate indicate that something is no longer to be considered usable or in force. To cancel is to cross something out by stamping a mark over it, drawing lines through it, or the like: to cancel a stamp, a word. To delete is to cross something out from written matter or from matter to be printed, often in accordance with a printer's or proofreader's symbol indicating the material is to be omitted: to delete part of a line. To erase is to remove by scraping or rubbing: to erase a capital letter. To obliterate is to blot out entirely, so as to remove all sign or trace of: to obliterate a record. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for cancelable


verb (mainly transitive) -cels, -celling, -celled (US) -cels, -celing, -celed
to order (something already arranged, such as a meeting or event) to be postponed indefinitely; call off
to revoke or annul: the order for the new television set was cancelled
to delete (writing, numbers, etc); cross out: he cancelled his name and substituted hers
to mark (a cheque, postage stamp, ticket, etc) with an official stamp or by a perforation to prevent further use
(also intransitive) usually foll by out. to counterbalance; make up for (a deficiency, etc): his generosity cancelled out his past unkindness
  1. to close (an account) by discharging any outstanding debts
  2. (sometimes foll by out) (accounting) to eliminate (a debit or credit) by making an offsetting entry on the opposite side of the account
  1. to eliminate (numbers, quantities, or terms) as common factors from both the numerator and denominator of a fraction or as equal terms from opposite sides of an equation
  2. (intransitive) to be able to be eliminated in this way
a new leaf or section of a book replacing a defective one, one containing errors, or one that has been omitted
a less common word for cancellation
(music) a US word for natural (sense 20)
Derived Forms
canceller, (US) canceler, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French canceller, from Medieval Latin cancellāre, from Late Latin: to strike out, make like a lattice, from Latin cancellī lattice, grating
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cancelable



late 14c., "cross out with lines," from Anglo-French canceler, from Latin cancellare "to make resemble a lattice," which in Late Latin took on a sense "cross out something written" by marking it with crossed lines, from cancelli, plural of cancellus "lattice, grating," diminutive of cancer "crossed bars, lattice," a variant of carcer "prison" (see incarceration). Figurative use, "to nullify an obligation" is from mid-15c. Related: Canceled (also cancelled); cancelling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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