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Canon vs. Cannon – Pick the Correct Word

Canon vs. Cannon – Pick the Correct Word

Not sure whether canon is spelled with one “N” or two? Spellcheck won’t help you here, because both spellings are correct. It’s just that canon and cannon are two words with different meanings.

Make sure you know whether to use cannon or canon in your writing!

Short and Sweet: Canon vs. Cannon

Both words are nouns, but they have different meanings.

  • Canon refers to a general rule, law, or principal. It also refers to a collection of writings.
  • Cannon refers to a type of mounted artillery weapon.

Continue reading to see examples and more in depth definitions.

What Does Canon Mean?

Meaning of Canon: A canon is something that is in keeping with the governing laws, principles, or rules.

Canon comes from the Greek word “kanon,” meaning “rule.” The word was originally used in the church, where the dogma of the church counsel is canon law.

The list of books considered Holy Scripture is also called canon.

  • The New Testament is not canon in Judaism.

Today, canon often refers to literature as well. Things that are endorsed by the original author are considered canon, while fans put forth other ideas that don’t conform to the original concept of the author. Canon can also refer to a standard of judgement, such as the sanctioned and accepted works of great literature.

  • That theory was confirmed by the author in an interview, so it’s canon

In general, canon means anything that is endorsed by the governing body on a particular topic. One can think of canon as having a similar meaning to “official” or “legitimate.” If something follows the rules and regulations, or is held in high esteem, it is considered canon.

  • While language is ever-changing and many slang words rotate in and out of use, some of them become canon and are officially entered in the dictionary.

What Does Cannon Mean?

Meaning of Cannon: Cannon’s meaning is far simpler: it refers to artillery. A cannon is a large, mounted gun. It originates from the Italian word “cannone,” meaning “large tube.” (Like cannoli!)

Common phrases include: “cannon blast,” “man the cannons,” and “loose cannon.”

  • The pirates took down the enemy ship with their superior cannons.
  • Don’t say anything about this secret to Sherry; that woman is a loose cannon!

“Loose cannon” is a metaphorical phrase, referring to a dangerous and unpredictable person. Imagine trying to fire a physical cannon that is loose: you wouldn’t be able to aim it, so it would swing around wildly and fire unpredictably. A person who causes unpredictable damage is like a loose cannon.

Cannon vs. Canon: How to Remember the Difference

“Loose cannon” compares a person to an unsafe gun, and the correct spelling for the gun is“cannon,” both of which have a set of double letters.

Another way to remember the difference is to think of the camera company Canon. Along with Nikon, Canon is one of the top “name brand” companies that produce cameras. These companies can be thought of as “official” camera companies.

Therefore, if you have a Canon camera, your camera is canon.

Recap: When to Use Canon and Cannon

Each of these words has its own distinct sense. Canon has a few senses; cannon is the simpler word.

Canon refers to anything conforming to the governing principles. Originally, it was used to mean in keeping with the church law. In modern usage, however, canon means what is written or declared true by the original author of any written work.

Cannons are large mounted guns. An unpredictable person is a loose cannon.

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