What does it mean to cancel someone?

Shut down or force out

To cancel someone is to stop supporting a person or to force a person out of a position of power. To cancel a business or organization is to boycott or blacklist them, with the goal of shutting them down. It is a way to express strong disapproval of a person's or company's actions.

The sentiment behind canceling a person is a product of "cancel culture," which became prevalent in 2019. When you cancel a person, you want to completely remove that person from your life, whether it be a friend in real life or an actor you like and follow on social media.

People may also try to cancel large organizations, such as businesses, universities, and religious groups. This has become more common as the Internet has given users more direct access to share their opinions. Some instances of users wanting to cancel an organization include when a food company does not use organic ingredients or when a car company does not utilize forms of renewable energy. This has led to virtue signaling by some organizations to gain favor from the masses.

Cancel movements often gain traction on social sites like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. These movements typically consist of a group of angry users that are working to remove or ostracize another user or organization, much like a mob in real life (without the pitchforks). Movements typically start when a notable person, such as a celebrity or politician, does something objectionable that users take offense to and then want immediate punishment for him or her.

A prominent criticism of canceling people is that people jump to conclusions about the wrongdoers and allow no time for explanation or redemption. Another criticism is that users cancel people for minor transgressions instead of working through differences of perspective to get to a shared understanding.


We need to cancel Tucker Carlson. All he does is spread lies and paranoia
That sounds like a snowflake reaction

You are hereby cancelled!

Related Slang


Updated November 17, 2020

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This page explains what the slang term "Cancel" means. The definition, example, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the team.

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