Meaning of “cannot” in the English Dictionary

british dictionary

"cannot" in British English

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cannotmodal verb

uk /ˈkæn.ɒt/ us /ˈkæn.ɑːt/

A1 the negative form of the verb "can":

I cannot predict what will happen next year.
cannot but formal

used to say that something will certainly happen:

If we persevere, we cannot but succeed.

More examples

  • The government cannot be seen to give in to terrorists' demands.
  • It feels terrible when your child is ill and you cannot help them.
  • Obviously the school cannot function without teachers.
  • These plants cannot survive in very cold conditions.
  • Some sounds cannot be detected by the human ear.

(Definition of “cannot” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"cannot" in American English

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cannotmodal verb

us /kəˈnɑt, ˈkæn·ɑt/ contraction can’t, /kænt, kɑnt/

can not; to be unable or not allowed to:

I cannot imagine what will happen next.

(Definition of “cannot” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)