[kan-tn-eez, -ees]

noun, plural Can·ton·ese.

a Chinese language spoken in Canton, the surrounding area of southern China, and Hong Kong.
a native or inhabitant of Canton, China.


pertaining to Canton, China, its inhabitants, or their language.

Origin of Cantonese

First recorded in 1855–60; Canton + -ese Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cantonese

Contemporary Examples of cantonese

Historical Examples of cantonese

  • They know us by the Cantonese laundrymen, the class which ranks with their lowest classes.

  • Our lower classes, "coolies" from the Cantonese districts, have flocked to America.

  • A Shanghai man, for instance, is unintelligible to a Cantonese, and so on.

  • She wore Manchu dress, which puzzled us, as she is Cantonese.

    Intimate China

    Mrs. Archibald Little

  • My followers were only six in number—W—— and the five Cantonese.

British Dictionary definitions for cantonese



the Chinese language spoken in the city of Canton, Guangdong and Guanxi provinces, Hong Kong, and elsewhere outside China
plural -ese a native or inhabitant of the city of Canton or Guangdong province


of or relating to the city of Canton, Guangdong province, or the Chinese language spoken there
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 cantonese



1816, from Canton, former transliteration of the name of the Chinese region now known in English as Guangzhou. The older name is from the former British-run, Hong Kong-based Chinese postal system. As an adjective from 1840.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper