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

  • n. Soldiers, sailors, or other military personnel regarded as likely to be killed or wounded in combat.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. military forces considered to be expendable
  • n. artillery ammunition

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. soldiers who are regarded as expendable in the face of artillery fire


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  • Not to be confused with a Brooklyn priest who dreams up a new precept of church law.

    September 10, 2008

  • Also a computer game.

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    February 5, 2008

  • Cannon fodder is an informal term for military personnel who are regarded or treated as expendable in the face of enemy fire. The term is generally used in situations where soldiers are forced to deliberately fight against hopeless odds (with the foreknowledge that they will suffer extremely high casualties) in an effort to achieve a strategic goal. An example is the trench warfare in World War I. The term may also be used (somewhat pejoratively) to differentiate infantry from other forces (such as artillery, air force or the navy), who generally have a much higher survival rate.

    The term derives from fodder - food for livestock - however in this case soldiers are the metaphorical food for cannons.


    February 5, 2008