'Canon' vs 'Cannon': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on July 29, 2023

If you are wondering about the difference between 'canon' vs. 'cannon,' here it is.

This is the short answer: 

  • 'Canon' is a noun for a dogma or regulation set forth by a church. 
  • 'Cannon' is a noun for a large firearm that shoots cannon balls. 
  • 'Cannon' is a verb for the act of firing a cannon. 

There is much more to learn about each of these terms, though. So, keep reading this post with meanings, definitions, examples, and grammar tips.

What is the Difference Between 'Canon' vs. 'Cannon?'

These words are homonyms. That means they sound the same. However, they have different spellings and meanings.

  • You spell the term that refers to religious law with one n.
  • The latter contains two n's and means a device that projects an object or substance with significant force or velocity.

Definition of 'Canon': What Does 'Canon' Mean?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines 'canon' as a noun that means:

  • A law enacted by the church, as in Canon Law

It can also mean:

  • The most sacred part of Mass, during which the priest consecrates the Body and Blood of Christ
  • The Holy Scripture, as defined by the church
  • A sanctioned work or group of writings
  • An acceptable rule or principle
  • A set of standards, practices, regulations, or social norms
  • A clergyman belonging to the Catholic Church

Synonyms of 'Canon'

  • Canon law
  • Doctrine
  • Dogma
  • Principle
  • Philosophy
  • Belief
  • Ideology
  • Axiom
  • Conviction
  • Creed

Definition of 'Cannon': What Does 'Cannon' Mean?

The same defines 'cannon' as a noun that means:

  • A substantial, heavy gun mounted to a carriage

It can also mean:

  • A high-caliber firearm outfitted on a fighter jet that fires explosive shells
  • A device propelling objects or substances at a high rate of speed
  • A strong pitching arm

It can also be a verb meaning: 

  • Discharging a cannon

Synonyms of 'Cannon'

  • Nuke
  • Bombard
  • Plaster
  • Bomb
  • Rob
  • Cannonade
  • Waylay
  • Mug
  • Pillage
  • Besiege
  • Plunder
  • Assault
  • Ravage
  • Beat
  • Strike

How to Use 'Canon' vs. 'Cannon'

You learned the difference and definitions of these terms. So, let's look at how and when to use 'canon' vs. 'cannon.'

  • Use 'canon' when referring to the laws set forth by the church.

For example, you might say:

I wanted to order blessed candles, but Canon Law states that the church may not sell pre-blessed items.

  • Use 'canon' to refer to the books the church acknowledges as Holy Scripture.

As an example, I might say:

Are you familiar with Canon? If you aren't, we should start doing a Bible study. 

  • Use 'canon' to describe a practice that is acceptable or approved

So, you could say:

According to the canons of baking, you are supposed to mix all the dry ingredients before adding the wet components. 

  • Use 'cannon' as a noun to refer to a large, high-caliber gun typically mounted to a vehicle.

For example, you might hear someone say:

The gunner is responsible for operating the cannon. 

  • Use 'cannon' to refer to any device that projects objects at a high rate of speed.

So, you might say:

Whenever I go to a sports game, I think about how fun it would be to operate a t-shirt cannon. 

  • Use 'cannon' as a verb to say that someone is shooting someone or something with a cannon.

As an example, you could say:

It seems like she cannons everyone regardless if they are engaging or not. 

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Canon' vs. 'Cannon'

Another consideration when you are learning words is pronunciation. So, let's look at how to pronounce 'canon' vs. 'cannon.'

Here is a guide you can use to ensure you are spelling 'canon' and 'cannon' correctly.

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'canon':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'cannon':


As you can see, like many other homophones, these words have the same pronunciation.

Sample Sentences: 'Canon' vs. 'Cannon'

Now, read these sample sentences using 'canon' vs. 'cannon' to ensure you understand how to use these words in different contexts.


  • Canon states that God loves all beings. If you don't believe me, take a look at Canon Scripture.
  • When I arrived at the meeting, they told me all the other homeowners preferred Canon Law.
  • According to Canon, no weapon formed against you shall prosper, and anyone who has falsely accused you will be dismissed as a liar.
  • According to Canon law, Catholic Churches that offer pre-blessed items in their bookstores are not allowed to charge for those items but can accept donations.


  • We went to the antique gun store and saw several cannons for sale. However, they cost several hundred thousand dollars.
  • The soldiers loaded the cannon with precision and speed, but it was no match for the Gatling gun.
  • Cannons were one of the most effective weapons used by armies until the Gatling gun was invented in 1862.
  • Can you imagine how challenging it was to drive a carriage with a heavy cannon and cannon balls in it?
  • As the gunner, he was responsible for loading the gunpowder and heavy cast iron balls into the cannon.

Recap: 'Canon' vs. 'Cannon'

Finally, let's review what you learned about 'canon' vs. 'cannon':

  • 'Canon' and 'cannon' are homophones that sound the same but have different meanings and spellings. 
  • 'Canon' is a noun that means laws or dogma that the church sets forth for its members. 
  • 'Cannon' is a noun for a large, heavy firearm that shoots cannon balls.
  • 'Cannon' is also a verb for shooting cannon balls at someone or something. 

The easiest way to remember the difference is that 'canon' with one n relates to religion, and 'cannon' with two n's is the noun or verb term used when discussing military equipment or using said equipment.

Nevertheless, if these terms trip you up in the future, you can always return to this lesson for a quick review. You can also learn about many commonly misused and misunderstood terms in the confusing words section here.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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