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cannot definition


This page has 5 definitions of cannot in English and Norman. Cannot is a verb and noun. Examples of how to use cannot in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .

English cannot definition

Alternative forms


can +‎ not


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈkænɒt/, /kæˈnɒt/
  • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈkæ(n.)nɑt/, /ˈkɛ(n.)nɑt/, /kə(n)ˈnɑt/, /kɪ(n)ˈnɑt/
  • (file)
  • (Canada) IPA(key): /kəˈnɑt/
  • Hyphenation: can‧not
  • Rhymes: -ɒt



  1. Can not (be unable to).
    I cannot open the window. It is stuck.
  2. Be forbidden or not permitted to
    • 1668 December 19, James Dalrymple, “Mr. Alexander Seaton contra Menzies” in The Deciſions of the Lords of Council & Seſſion I (Edinburgh, 1683), page 575
      The Pupil after his Pupillarity, had granted a Diſcharge to one of the Co-tutors, which did extinguiſh the whole Debt of that Co-tutor, and conſequently of all the reſt, they being all correi debendi, lyable by one individual Obligation, which cannot be Diſcharged as to one, and ſtand as to all the reſt.
    • 2013 June 21, Karen McVeigh, “US rules human genes can't be patented”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 2, page 10:
      The US supreme court has ruled unanimously that natural human genes cannot be patented, a decision that scientists and civil rights campaigners said removed a major barrier to patient care and medical innovation.
    You cannot enter the hall without a ticket.
Usage notes

Both the one-word form cannot and the two-word form can not are acceptable, but cannot is more common (in the Oxford English Corpus, three times as common). Authors more commonly opt for the two-word form in constructions where not is part of a set phrase, such as 'not only... but (also)': Paul can not only sing well, but also paint brilliantly.




cannot (plural cannots)

  1. Something that cannot be done.
    the cans and cannots
  2. A person who cannot do (something).


Norman cannot definition


(This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)


cannot m (plural cannots)

  1. (Jersey) duckling

Derived terms