Definition of cancel in English:



[with object]
  • 1Decide or announce that (a planned event) will not take place.

    ‘he was forced to cancel his visit’
    • ‘Monday's meeting was abandoned following an early morning track inspection and it was decided at 4 pm on Monday to cancel Tuesday's event.’
    • ‘All political parties have decided to cancel all debate on the euro, but to proceed with the referendum.’
    • ‘Some said the administration should intervene and cancel the event.’
    • ‘Also, while all indoor concerts and performance events are cancelled, outdoor activities are still held.’
    • ‘One song event was abruptly cancelled after the audio system apparently malfunctioned.’
    • ‘Early morning fog forced the organisers to delay the start, near Ripon, for half an hour, and when there was no improvement the event was cancelled.’
    • ‘We nearly cancelled the whole dinner party plan for tonight.’
    • ‘The organisers reserve the right to change or cancel listed events if weather is too bad.’
    • ‘Will I get a refund, including additional fees, if the event is cancelled, changed or I cannot go?’
    • ‘It was then decided in 2001 to cancel these annual events completely.’
    • ‘Sam laughed, ‘Well, I guess we have to cancel our little dinner plans for tonight, I'm sorry.’’
    • ‘As of now, ABC has no plans to cancel the premiere of the show, which is set for September 21st.’
    • ‘Two hours before the party, they showed up and cancelled the event.’
    • ‘Earlier this week the event was cancelled after a dispute with police about on-street drinking.’
    • ‘There is no plan to cancel December's grand finale, the organisation said.’
    • ‘It is understood the decision to cancel a key meeting planned for Monday was taken after detailed examination of the club's accounts.’
    • ‘We thought long and hard about cancelling the event, but the day is all about families having fun.’
    • ‘Great Yorkshire Show organisers have denied any plans to cancel this year's event because of the foot and mouth crisis.’
    • ‘But a lack of volunteers, rising insurance costs and increasing red tape has meant the organisers have cancelled the event.’
    • ‘I just called to tell you my parents decided to cancel the party.’
    call off, abandon, scrap, drop
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    1. 1.1 Annul or revoke (a formal arrangement which is in effect)
      ‘his visa had been cancelled’
      • ‘The Department wishes to contact them in order to assess the possible effects on them of a decision to cancel your visa.’
      • ‘The union had authorised industrial action without a ballot and the plaintiff obtained an order that the union should withdraw and cancel any instruction, direction or decision to take strike action.’
      • ‘The company does not accept the conclusion and exact arrangements for cancelling the contract are still being finalised.’
      • ‘Near the end of the war, the Federal Aviation Administration's reclassification of South Vietnam as a dangerous combat area had the effect of canceling the insurance of any civil aircraft operating there.’
      • ‘You should not suddenly stop making payments or cancel the policy without doing research and taking the appropriate financial advice.’
      • ‘If you obtain service work elsewhere, you may void or cancel the warranty all together.’
      • ‘Unfortunately we have been informed by your bank that they have cancelled your Direct Debit instruction.’
      • ‘Jefri would cancel the tender process if he found that companies were being manipulated by legislative council members.’
      • ‘You can cancel the arrangement at any time should your circumstances change.’
      • ‘The bank had agreed to keep the accounts separate, and if it wished to cancel this arrangement in view of the changed circumstances, it had to give notice to the customer.’
      • ‘How can we justify in effect canceling the Fifth Amendment, nullifying due process, and allowing for indefinite incarceration without a trial?’
      • ‘My final letter to the bank cancelled 14 subscriptions and effected an annual saving of nearly £75.’
      • ‘As a codicil it does not annul the testament or cancel the promises.’
      annul, invalidate, nullify, declare null and void, render null and void, void
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    2. 1.2 Abolish or make void (a financial obligation)
      ‘I intend to cancel your debt to me’
      • ‘Jewish law dictated that every seventh year all debts should be cancelled and all slaves freed.’
      • ‘Just cancelling the debts of Third World nations is not enough.’
      • ‘Mr Clarke said the G8 had shown clear commitment to tackle poverty with an agreement to cancel the debt of some of the world's poorest countries.’
      • ‘Forgiving someone who has wronged us is like canceling a debt.’
      • ‘We totally agree with President Mwanawasa who has appealed to the donor community to consider cancelling Zambia's external debt as Japan has done.’
      • ‘All the debt should be cancelled now, and a massive aid package sent to the affected countries.’
      • ‘There should be no conditions, no timetables, no waiting before debt is cancelled.’
      • ‘Finally, the above classifications relate to promissory conditions but there may also be contingent conditions which either suspend or cancel contractual liability.’
      • ‘The hope is that the decisions of the G8 leaders will help some of the poorest people in our world by cancelling unpayable debts, giving more and better aid, and creating more just trade rules.’
      • ‘We must do all we can to help these people, including cancelling their debts.’
      • ‘In March 1681 the king agreed to grant young William, the admiral's heir, proprietary ownership of the lands west of the Delaware River and north of the Maryland border in exchange for canceling the old debt.’
      • ‘Ten years before this in 63 BC, another noble, Catiline, had declared support for redistributing land and cancelling debts.’
      • ‘If it is settled in his or her favour, the debt will be cancelled.’
      • ‘The document also calls on international financial institutions and donor countries to cancel Africa's debt in order to free up resources to fight the disease.’
      • ‘He said it was vital for Western nations to help Africa by getting trade restrictions lifted and cancelling debt.’
      • ‘Priority, on a global scale, could involve cancelling Third World debt and tackling Africa's AIDS crisis.’
      • ‘Faced with two debtors, neither of whom could repay the loan, the creditor decided to cancel both obligations.’
      • ‘The students are believed to have taken advantage of a loophole in legislation, allowing loan debts to be cancelled by bankruptcy.’
      • ‘Bad debt statistics also cover former tenants who have been declared bankrupt and are therefore unable to cancel their debts.’
      • ‘Insurance underwriters have given notice that they will cancel war liabilities from midnight on Monday.’
    3. 1.3 Mark, pierce, or tear (a ticket or stamp) to show that it has been used or invalidated.
      ‘cancelling stamps on registered mail’
      • ‘The check is then canceled and returned to the buyer.’
  • 2usually cancel something out(of a factor or circumstance) neutralize or negate the force or effect of (another)

    ‘the electric fields may cancel each other out’
    • ‘Within two minutes the goal was cancelled out in extraordinary circumstances.’
    • ‘There will come a point around 2011 when the extra spending power of this group is cancelled out by the extra unemployment problems.’
    • ‘Brendan Maher opened the scoring for Portarlington but his point was cancelled out by P.J. Harding.’
    • ‘Whenever a negative thought concerning your personal powers come into mind, deliberately voice a positive thought to cancel it out.’
    • ‘There were plenty of companies who were using information technology well - but they were canceled out by those who were using it terribly.’
    • ‘The bead size and arrangement ensures that every peak in the scattered waves is met by an identical trough that cancels it out, a process known as destructive interference.’
    • ‘Reddish marks can be cancelled out by using a green ‘color corrector.’’
    • ‘Whatever effect the beam from one side had, the beam from the other side would cancel it out.’
    • ‘At low tides, reflections from the sea cause interference in the broadband signal and can even cancel the signal out altogether.’
    • ‘For every great game released this year there has been a real high-profile stinker to cancel it out.’
    • ‘Conor Duffy opened the scoring for the home side but this score was cancelled out by a fine strike by Fran Feane.’
    • ‘In diamagnetic materials, all intrinsic magnetic moments are cancelled out by the pairing of electrons.’
    • ‘However, for every positive thing, there is at least one negative thing to cancel it out.’
    • ‘The public enterprise spokesman said there was little point in the EU liberalising the car market to give better value to the consumers if the advantage is cancelled out by a punitive tax regime.’
    • ‘The particles would also develop a collective motion: as opposing motions would be cancelled out, the cloud would end up rotating.’
    • ‘The only way in which the form of the laws of motion can remain the same for all observers in arbitrary accelerated motion relative to one another is if the gravitational force field exists to cancel them out.’
    • ‘I popped my head on the pillow early last night, feeling tired and jaded, and hoping that the negatives of the day would be cancelled out by a good night's sleep.’
    • ‘An objective assessment of the overall investment environment shows that the positive competitive advantages are cancelled out by continuing bureaucratic, fiscal and structural obstacles.’
    • ‘While Western governments appear to be giving large sums of money in aid to developing countries, the aid is cancelled out by the massive debts these countries owe.’
    • ‘Any benefits have been cancelled out by the demand of debt repayment.’
    neutralize, counterbalance, counteract, balance, balance out, countervail
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    1. 2.1Mathematics Delete (an equal factor) from both sides of an equation or from the numerator and denominator of a fraction.
      ‘‘Divide by 9’ cancels out ‘multiply by 9’’
      • ‘By adding simultaneous equations we may cancel out one of the unknowns.’
      • ‘If both the numerator and denominator have common factors, then we can cancel these factors out.’
      • ‘For problems like these, you want to add the two equations together in such a way as to cancel out either the x or y terms.’
      • ‘Just as numbers cancel out when the same number is on the top and bottom of a fraction (2/2 = 2 ÷ 2 = 1), so do units cancel out if you have the same unit in the numerator and denominator.’
      • ‘All of the numerators will be factors of the numerator of the product and all of the denominators will be factors of the denominator of the product, so you can cancel out any factor of anything in a numerator with any factor of anything in a denominator.’


  • 1A mark made on a postage stamp to show that it has been used.

    ‘a stamp franked and with an adhesive cancel’
  • 2Printing
    A new page or section inserted in a book to replace the original text, typically to correct an error.

    as modifier ‘a cancel title page’
    • ‘He had followed exactly the same practice with the revised text of Winter and created the same effect by reissuing copies of Summer with a cancel title.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘obliterate or delete writing by drawing or stamping lines across it’): from Old French canceller, from Latin cancellare, from cancelli ‘crossbars’.