The Meaning of Cancel Culture: What It Is and How To Use It

Cancel culture is prevalent in today’s society if public figures stray from social norms. But what is the meaning of cancel culture?

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The term cancel culture is commonly seen on social media to reference anything from Karens to the takedown of celebrities like JK Rowling, Kevin Spacey, Kevin Hart, President Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West. 

How is the term cancel culture used to refer to those who have been accused of racism, transphobia, and sexual misconduct? Keep reading to learn more. 

What Does the Term Cancel Culture Mean?

According to Dictionary, cancel culture is the practice of “canceling” or withdrawing support from a public figure or a company after they do or say something offensive or worthy of objection. If someone is canceled, they no longer receive public support and are often boycotted, muted, or publicly shamed on social media. Cancel culture is sometimes referred to as call-out culture.

Cancel culture is a cultural boycott of people whose actions go against the mainstream beliefs of Democrats, but some people think that they should be protected under free speech. On the flip side, free speech goes both ways — freedom of speech does not prevent freedom of consequences or judgement. 

The most common reasons why a person might be canceled are sexism and gender discrimination, sexual discrimination, racial discrimination, a lack of inclusion and diversity, or sexual assault or harassment allegations.

What Is the Origin of the Term Cancel Culture?

The Pew Research Center states the word cancel has existed as slang since the 1990s. 

The current meaning of the term cancel spread on Black Twitter in the 2010s regarding racism, discrimination, and political discourse and spread to the public throughout the #MeToo movement. This phenomenon has been used to hold people accountable for their behavior, and advocates of cancel culture aren’t afraid to Tweet at anyone who’s done something wrong.

How Can Cancel Culture Be Used in a Sentence?

Cancel culture is most often used to refer to the process of withdrawing support from a public figure. Using this word in a sentence refers to this process and often has a negative connotation. If you use the term cancel culture, it might imply a lack of support for holding celebrities and other people accountable online.

No one would book the man on their stand-up show as a result of his off-color joke being posted on Twitter. Some called this cancel culture, while others called it a consequence.

When Hudley’s new girlfriend at the University of Michigan learned that he posted a video making fun of Asian people in December, she took to Twitter with cancel culture on her side.

The white actress was canceled after she harassed a Black man in Central Park.

What Are Translations of Cancel Culture?

The idea of cancel culture is not a strictly American or English-speaking concept. Due to the advent of global social media sites like Twitter, the concept of cancel culture has the ability to spread worldwide. 

To discuss cancel culture with people who speak different languages, take a look at this list of translations of cancel culture:

  • Kannada: ರದ್ದು ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತಿ
  • Indonesian: Budaya Batal
  • Welsh: Diwylliant Diddymu
  • Basque: Baliogabetzeko Kultura
  • Amharic: የሰርበት ባህል
  • Arabic: ثقافة الإلغاء
  • Hungarian: A törlés kultúrája
  • Catalan: Cultura de cancel·lació
  • Japanese: キャンセルの文化
  • Ukrainian: Культура скасування
  • Croatian: Kultura otkaza
  • Russian: Культура отмены
  • Estonian: Tühistamise kultuur
  • Lithuanian: Atšaukimo kultūra
  • Swahili: Utamaduni wa kufuta.
  • Portuguese (Portugal): Cultura de Cancelar
  • Serbian: Култура отказа
  • Norwegian: kultur av Cancel.
  • Bengali: বাতিল সংস্কৃতি
  • Portuguese (Brazil): Cultura de Cancelar
  • Polish: Kultura Anuluj
  • Gujarati: રદ કરવાની સંસ્કૃતિ
  • French: Culture d’annulation
  • Italian: Cultura della cancellazione
  • Icelandic: Menning hætta
  • Finnish: Peruuta
  • Slovak: Kultúra zrušenia
  • Czech: Kultura Zrušit
  • Dutch: Cultuur van Annuleren
  • Hebrew: תרבות של ביטול
  • Malay: Budaya membatalkan
  • Bulgarian: Култура на Отказ
  • Latvian: Atcelt atcelšanas kultūra
  • Spanish: Cultura de cancelar
  • Malayalam: റദ്ദാക്കുകയുടെ സംസ്കാരം
  • Swedish: avbrytningskultur
  • Danish: Kultur af Annuller
  • Romanian: Cultură de anulare
  • Tamil: ரத்து கலாச்சாரம்
  • Vietnamese: văn hóa hủy bỏ
  • German: Kultur von Abbrechen
  • Filipino: Konsultahan ng Kanselahin
  • Korean: 취소 문화
  • Greek: Πολιτισμός της ακύρωσης
  • Hindi: रद्द करने की संस्कृति
  • Chinese (PRC): 取消文化
  • Turkish: iptal kültürü
  • Chinese (Taiwan): 取消文化
  • Telugu: రద్దు రద్దు
  • Marathi: रद्द करण्याची संस्कृती
  • Urdu: منسوخ کی ثقافت
  • Thai: วัฒนธรรมการยกเลิก
  • Slovenian: Kultura preklica

What Are Synonyms of the Word Cancel?

Since the word cancel has such a powerful connotation in the modern-day, its connotation in other contexts may have changed as well. If you are looking for a word without the same slang connotations as the word cancel, using a synonym might be helpful. Which one of these synonyms of cancel from Power Thesaurus would you use?

  • abandon
  • abolish
  • abort
  • abrogate
  • annul
  • blot out
  • call-off
  • cancellation
  • counteract
  • counterbalance
  • countermand
  • cross out
  • delete
  • discontinue
  • drop
  • efface
  • eliminate
  • eradicate
  • erase
  • expunge
  • invalidate
  • lift
  • negate
  • neutralize
  • nullify
  • obliterate
  • offset
  • override
  • overrule
  • overturn
  • quash
  • recall
  • remove
  • repeal
  • repudiate
  • rescind
  • retract
  • reverse
  • revoke
  • rub out
  • scrap
  • scratch
  • scrub
  • set aside
  • stop
  • strike down
  • strikeout
  • terminate
  • undo
  • vacate
  • void
  • wipeout
  • withdraw


The term cancel culture refesr to the process of canceling or removing public support from a celebrity or public figure whose beliefs or actions go against what is considered morally sound. Celebrities are canceled frequently, but who’s next is always a mystery.


  1. Cancel Culture | 
  2. Cancel synonyms – 1 703 Words and Phrases for Cancel | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Americans and ‘Cancel Culture’: Where Some See Calls for Accountability, Others See Censorship, Punishment | Pew Research Center