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[kan-ot, ka-not, kuh-] /ˈkæn ɒt, kæˈnɒt, kə-/
a form of ·can not.
cannot but, have no alternative but to:
We cannot but choose otherwise.
Origin of cannot
1350-1400; Middle English
Usage note
Cannot is sometimes also spelled can not. The one-word spelling is by far the more common: Interest rates simply cannot continue at their present level. The contraction can't is most common in speech and informal writing. See also can1. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cannot
  • Germans have learned after decades of fighting their expression that the ideas behind them cannot be outlawed.
  • Student life needs certain autonomy and cannot be organized educationally as strictly accountable activities.
  • So they can consume many of the long-lived radioactive materials that thermal reactors cannot.
  • Though they cannot fly, ostriches are fleet, strong runners.
  • As the world warms up, some species cannot move to cooler climes in time to survive.
  • You've become at an expert at identifying what plastics you can and cannot recycle.
  • Seeds cannot germinate until certain favorable environmental conditions are met.
  • The blimp cannot fly where there is risk of snow and has difficulty transiting over mountains.
  • Cholera outbreaks seem to be on the increase, but a new study has found they cannot be explained by global warming.
  • Today you cannot order a coffee, buy a bagel, or pay for a photocopy without being asked to leave your change behind for.
British Dictionary definitions for cannot


/ˈkænɒt; kæˈnɒt/
an auxiliary verb expressing incapacity, inability, withholding permission, etc; can not
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
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Word Origin and History for cannot

c.1400, from can (v.1) + not. Old English expressed the notion by ne cunnan.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with cannot


see under can't
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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