What does Cancel mean?

Stop or kick out

When you ‘Cancel’ someone, you basically stop supporting them or push them out of their influential position. It’s a way of expressing deep disapproval of their actions. The same applies when you cancel an organization or a business – you’re basically boycotting or blacklisting them, aiming to put them out of operation.

The idea of canceling a person or an organization comes from “cancel culture”, a trend that became popular in 2019. If you cancel a person, it means you want to totally cut them out of your life. This could be a real-life friend or a celebrity you follow on social media.

Canceling is not limited to individuals. Big organizations, such as corporations, educational institutions, and religious groups, can also be targeted. This has become increasingly common as the internet has empowered users to voice their opinions more directly. For instance, people might want to cancel a food brand for not using organic ingredients or an automobile company for not adopting renewable energy sources.

Cancel movements often gain momentum on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. These movements usually involve a group of upset users trying to ostracize another user or organization. They are similar to a real-life mob but without the physical presence. These movements typically trigger when a person of note, such as a celebrity or a political leader, does something that people find offensive, leading to demands for immediate punishment.

A key criticism of cancel culture is that people often make hasty judgments about the alleged offenders without giving them a chance to explain or redeem themselves. It’s also criticized for people being ‘canceled’ over minor mistakes instead of trying to understand different perspectives and working towards a mutual understanding.

Example for using ‘Cancel’ in a conversation

Hey, did you see what that celebrity did? I can’t believe it!

Yeah, I saw. It’s really disappointing. I think I’m gonna cancel them.

I’m with you on that. Let’s stop supporting them.

Definitely. We shouldn’t give them any more attention or money.