See also: can not

English Edit

Alternative forms Edit

Etymology Edit

can +‎ not

Pronunciation Edit

  • (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

Verb Edit


  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 Edit

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.

Synonyms Edit

Translations Edit

Noun Edit

cannot (plural cannots)

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

Anagrams Edit

Norman Edit

Etymology Edit

Related to French cane ((female) duck) and canard (duck; drake); see there for more. Cognate with French canot (little boat).

Noun Edit

cannot m (plural cannots)

  1. (Jersey) duckling

Derived terms Edit