See also: cantón, Canton, and Cantón


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Etymology 1Edit

1530s, from Middle French canton, from Old French canton (corner); heraldic sense from the 1570s, geographic sense from c. 1600.

Alternative formsEdit


  • IPA(key): /ˈkæntn̩/
  • IPA(key): /ˈkæntɒn/ (especially in the flag sense)
  • (file)


canton (plural cantons)

  1. A division of a political unit.
    • 1912, Joseph McCabe (translator), We Must Take Sides; or, The Principal of Action (originally by Voltaire)
      These three millions live in a small canton of Egypt which cannot maintain twenty thousand people
    • 20 May, 1686, Gilbert Burnet, letter from Nimmengen
      There is another piece of Holbein's, [] in which, in six several cantons, the several parts of our Saviour's passion are represented.
    1. One of the states comprising the Swiss Confederation.
    2. A subdivision of an arrondissement of France.
    3. A division of Luxembourg, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, etc.
  2. A small community or clan.
  3. A subdivision of a flag, the rectangular inset on the upper hoist (i.e., flagpole) side (e.g., the stars of the US national flag are in a canton).
  4. (heraldry) A division of a shield occupying one third of the chief, usually on the dexter side, formed by a perpendicular line from the top meeting a horizontal line from the side.
    • 21 August 1662, John Evelyn, diary entry for 21 August 1662 in John Evelyn's Diary, published 1819
      The king gave us the arms of England to be borne in a canton in our arms.


canton (third-person singular simple present cantons, present participle cantoning, simple past and past participle cantoned)

  1. (transitive) To delineate as a separate district.
  2. (transitive) To divide into cantons.
  3. (transitive) To allot quarters to troops.

Etymology 2Edit


canton (plural cantons)

  1. (obsolete) A song or canto.




From Middle French canton, from Old French canton (from the 1240s), from Old Occitan canton (corner; canton) (recorded before 1218), adopted in Occitan from North Italian (Gallo-Italic, early Lombard) cantone (edge, corner; canton), ultimately representing Latin cant- (rim (of a wheel)) with the addition of the (accusative -ōnem) suffix forming augmentatives in Romance.



canton m (plural cantons)

  1. canton (of Switzerland, France or Luxembourg)
  2. (heraldry) canton


  • German: Kanton

Further readingEdit



canton m (plural cantoni)

  1. corner

Derived termsEdit