1. a small territorial district, especially one of the states of the Swiss confederation.
  2. (in a department of France) a division of an arrondissement.
  3. Heraldry. a square area in the dexter chief, or right-hand corner, of an escutcheon, often distinctively treated: a diminutive of the dexter chief quarter.
  4. Architecture. a pilaster or similar feature projecting from the corner of a building.
  5. Obsolete. a division, part, or portion of anything.

verb (used with object)

  1. to divide into parts or portions.
  2. to divide into cantons or territorial districts.
  3. to allot quarters to (soldiers, troops, etc.).


  1. Also called Kwangchow, Guangzhou, Kuangchou. Older Spelling. a seaport in and the capital of Guangdong province, in SE China, on the Zhu Jiang.
  2. a city in NE Ohio: location of the football Hall of Fame.
  3. a city in E Massachusetts.
  4. a city in W central Illinois.
  5. a town in central Mississippi.

noun Pinyin.

  1. a province in SE China. 89,344 sq. mi. (231,401 sq. km). Capital: Canton.

noun (ˈkæntɒn, kænˈtɒn)

  1. any of the 23 political divisions of Switzerland
  2. a subdivision of a French arrondissement
  3. (ˈkæntən) heraldry a small square or oblong charge on a shield, usually in the top left corner


  1. (kænˈtɒn) (tr) to divide into cantons
  2. (kənˈtuːn) (esp formerly) to allocate accommodation to (military personnel)


  1. (kænˈtɒn) a port in SE China, capital of Guangdong province, on the Zhu Jiang (Pearl River): the first Chinese port open to European trade. Pop: 3 881 000 (2005 est)Chinese names: Guangzhou, Kwangchow
  2. (ˈkæntən) a city in the US, in NE Ohio. Pop: 80 806 (2000)


  1. a province of SE China, on the South China Sea: includes the Leizhou Peninsula, with densely populated river valleys; traditionally also including Macao and Hong Kong; the only true tropical climate in China. Capital: Canton. Pop: 79 540 000 (2003 est). Area: 197 100 sq km (76 100 sq miles)

1530s, “corner, angle,” from Middle French canton “piece, portion of a country” (13c.), from Italian (Lombard dialect) cantone “region,” especially in the mountains, augmentative of Latin canto “section of a country,” literally “corner” (see cant (n.2)). Originally in English a term in heraldry and flag descriptions; applied to the sovereign states of the Swiss republic from 1610s. Related: Cantoned.

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