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[kan-tl-ee-ver, -ev-er] /ˈkæn tlˌi vər, -ˌɛv ər/
any rigid structural member projecting from a vertical support, especially one in which the projection is great in relation to the depth, so that the upper part is in tension and the lower part in compression.
Building Trades, Civil Engineering. any rigid construction extending horizontally well beyond its vertical support, used as a structural element of a bridge (cantilever bridge) building foundation, etc.
Aeronautics. a form of wing construction in which no external bracing is used.
Architecture. a bracket for supporting a balcony, cornice, etc.
verb (used without object)
to project in the manner of a cantilever.
verb (used with object)
to construct in the manner of a cantilever.
Origin of cantilever
1660-70; perhaps cant2 + -i- + lever Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cantilever
  • When the pollinator lands on it, there is a cantilever effect and the lip bonks the pollinator on its back and deposits pollen.
  • Zapping this system with light changes the wetting angle the droplet makes with the cantilever and the electrode below.
  • cantilever drainage plows under experimental conditions.
  • Our biennial inspection program will continue until all the cantilever sign supports are no longer in service.
  • cantilever structures, poles, and bridge mounted sign brackets shall conform to the following fatigue categories.
  • cantilever construction allows for overhanging structures without external bracing.
British Dictionary definitions for cantilever


  1. a beam, girder, or structural framework that is fixed at one end and is free at the other
  2. (as modifier): a cantilever wing
a wing or tailplane of an aircraft that has no external bracing or support
a part of a beam or a structure projecting outwards beyond its support
(transitive) to construct (a building member, beam, etc) so that it is fixed at one end only
(intransitive) to project like a cantilever
Word Origin
C17: perhaps from cant² + lever
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 cantilever

1660s, probably from cant (n.2) + lever, but earliest form (c.1610) was cantlapper. First element also might be Spanish can "dog," architect's term for an end of timber jutting out of a wall, on which beams rested. Related: Cantilevered.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cantilever in Science
  (kān'tl-ē'vər, -ěv'ər)   
A projecting structure, such as a beam, that is supported at one end and that carries a load at the other end or along its length. Cantilevers are important structures in the design of bridges and cranes.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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