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small cane

See under cane (def 5).


[keyn] /keɪn/
a stick or short staff used to assist one in walking; walking stick.
a long, hollow or pithy, jointed woody stem, as that of bamboo, rattan, sugar cane, and certain palms.
a plant having such a stem.
split rattan woven or interlaced for chair seats, wickerwork, etc.
any of several tall bamboolike grasses, especially of the genus Arundinaria, as A. gigantea (cane reed, large cane, giant cane, or southern cane) and A. tecta (small cane or switch cane) of the southern U.S.
the stem of a raspberry or blackberry.
a rod used for flogging.
a slender cylinder or rod, as of sealing wax or glass.
verb (used with object), caned, caning.
to flog with a cane.
to furnish or make with cane:
to cane chairs.
Origin of cane
1350-1400; Middle English < Middle French < Latin canna < Greek kánna < Semitic; compare Akkadian qanū, Hebrew qāneh reed
Related forms
canelike, adjective
cany, adjective
recane, verb (used with object), recaned, recaning.
uncaned, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for small cane
Historical Examples
  • Every one carries a small cane with a button on the end of it.

    Our Little German Cousin Mary Hazelton Wade
  • David smiled as he caught up a small cane and prepared to go.

    The Weavers, Complete Gilbert Parker
  • If it dodged once in this little bit of small cane it was lost.

    Sons and Fathers

    Harry Stillwell Edwards
  • He held in his hand a small cane, with which he cut angrily at the flowers.

    The Texan Star

    Joseph A. Altsheler
  • Then blindfold one child at a time; give him a small cane and let him make one strike and see what he can bring down.

    Bright Ideas for Entertaining Mrs. Herbert B. Linscott
  • Its advantages are so apparent, that after one trial on each estate, it has superseded the small cane which was in general use.

  • An old woman with a stand of flowers sat on a small cane chair at the corner.

    Three Soldiers John Dos Passos
  • Macallister noted that one man placed a small cane basket under a thwart, and he suspected what was inside.

    The Coast of Adventure Harold Bindloss
  • Tim did not speak, but his eye fell upon a small cane above the chimney-piece.

    A Little World George Manville Fenn
  • Another was a bow, the string being of catgut, which was struck with a small cane.

    Manco, the Peruvian Chief W.H.G. Kingston
British Dictionary definitions for small cane


  1. the long jointed pithy or hollow flexible stem of the bamboo, rattan, or any similar plant
  2. any plant having such a stem
  1. strips of such stems, woven or interlaced to make wickerwork, the seats and backs of chairs, etc
  2. (as modifier): a cane chair
the woody stem of a reed, young grapevine, blackberry, raspberry, or loganberry
any of several grasses with long stiff stems, esp Arundinaria gigantea of the southeastern US
a flexible rod with which to administer a beating as a punishment, as to schoolboys
a slender rod, usually wooden and often ornamental, used for support when walking; walking stick
a slender rod or cylinder, as of glass
verb (transitive)
to whip or beat with or as if with a cane
to make or repair with cane
(informal) to defeat: we got well caned in the match
(slang) cane it, to do something with great power, force, or speed or consume something such as alcohol in large quantities: you can do it in ten minutes if you really cane it
Derived Forms
caner, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French, from Latin canna, from Greek kanna, of Semitic origin; related to Arabic qanāh reed


(dialect) a female weasel
Word Origin
C18: of unknown origin
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 small cane



"to beat with a walking stick," 1660s, from cane (n.). Related: Caned; caning.



late 14c., from Old French cane "reed, cane, spear" (13c., Modern French canne), from Latin canna "reed, cane," from Greek kanna, perhaps from Assyrian qanu "tube, reed" (cf. Hebrew qaneh, Arabic qanah "reed"), from Sumerian gin "reed." But Tucker finds this borrowing "needless" and proposes a native Indo-European formation from a root meaning "to bind, bend." Sense of "walking stick" in English is 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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