• synonyms


  1. the first son of Adam and Eve, who murdered his brother Abel. Gen. 4.
  2. a murderer.
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  1. raise Cain, Slang.
    1. become angry or violent: He'll raise Cain when he finds out I lost his watch.
    2. to behave in a boisterous manner; cause a disturbance: The students raised Cain while the teacher was out.
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Related formsCain·ism, nounCain·it·ic [key-nit-ik] /keɪˈnɪt ɪk/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for cainism


  1. the first son of Adam and Eve, who killed his brother Abel (Genesis 4:1–16)
  2. raise Cain
    1. to cause a commotion
    2. to react or protest heatedly
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  1. history (in Scotland and Ireland) payment in kind, usually farm produce paid as rent
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Word Origin

C12: from Scottish Gaelic cāin rent, perhaps ultimately from Late Latin canōn tribute (see canon); compare Middle Irish cāin law
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

Word Origin and History for cainism


elder son of Adam and Eve, from Hebrew Qayin, literally "created one," also "smith," from Semitic stem q-y-n "to form, to fashion." To raise Cain is first recorded 1840. Surnames McCain, McCann, etc., are a contraction of Irish Mac Cathan "son of Cathan," from Celtic cathan, literally "warrior," from cath "battle."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with cainism


see raise Cain.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.