Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • Contraction of cannot.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • cannot; is unable to; does not have the ability to
  • is forbidden to; is not permitted to

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • A colloquial contraction for can not.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • A colloquial contraction of cannot.

Etymologies

can +‎ -n't, since 1706 or earlier[2]. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Women like my grandmother, a Latina mom who never understood the word can't, are changing the face of what motherhood looks like in this country.

    Rene Alegria: Dollars and Dreamers: How Latino Immigrants Can Save Main Street

  • And P.T. Barnum, in his "Struggles and Triumphs: Forty Years' Recollections," chastises his manager and son-in-law for being less than enthusiastic about some of Barnum's plans with "have I not told you often enough, the word can't is not in my dictionary?"

    Boston.com Top Stories

  • The phrase "can't say with certitude" will certainly lead many to believe that the photo is indeed of the congressman.

    Forbes.com: News

  • Erase the word "can't" from your self-talk: it's not that you "can't" exercise or eat right, but that you "won't."

    The Seattle Times

  • I heard there was a permanent ban on the word "can't."

    NYT > Home Page

  • "It's not as if there are not legitimate players...but the legitimate players long-term can't compete" unless investigators "get the fraud out on the table and create a level playing field," Mr. Vance said.

    Crackdown Targets Tests on Concrete

  • House Speaker John Boehner R., Ohio has said the idea can't pass the House, and it isn't clear Mr. Reid's flirtation has support within his party.

    McConnell Changes the Terms

  • Sometimes, calls outside the region can get through, while local calls can't.

    Child health experts' tips for quake's emotional aftershocks

  • Higher supplies, in other words, can't be relied on at this point to bring down oil prices.

    Crude-Oil Prices Rise Toward a Break Point

  • Doernberg says "leveraging the power of aggregation" allows the company the flexibility to perform tasks even traditional major labels can't, such as offering artists licensing and promotional partnership opportunities and accessing millions of fans at once through its extensive database and its website, which receives more than 30 million visitors each month.

    Kristi York Wooten: ReverbNation Flexes Music Muscle for Night of Sweet Relief

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