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Alternative forms[edit]


First attested in the 1660s, probably from cant (slope) + lever, but the earliest form (c. 1610) was cantlapper. First element may also be Spanish can (dog), an architect's term for an end of timber jutting out of a wall, on which beams rested.



cantilever (plural cantilevers)

  1. (architecture) A beam anchored at one end and projecting into space, such as a long bracket projecting from a wall to support a balcony.
    • 1951, Sinclair Lewis, World So Wide, Chapter ,[1]
      He loved Litchfield, Sharon, Williamsburg; he preferred the Georgian, and he had theories about developing a truly American style. He was called a plodder by all the Kivis, and in turn he disliked their bleak blocks of Modernist cement, their glass-fronted hen-houses, their architectural spiders with cantilever claws.
    • 2004, Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty, Bloomsbury, 2005, Chapter 10,
      The service stairs were next to the main stairs, separated only by a wall, but what a difference there was between them: the narrow back stairs, dangerously unrailed, under the bleak gleam of a skylight, each step worn down to a steep hollow, turned tightly in a deep grey shaft; whereas the great main sweep, a miracle of cantilevers, dividing and joining again, was hung with the portraits of prince-bishops, and had ears of corn in its wrought-iron banisters that trembled to the tread.
  2. A beam anchored at one end and used as a lever within a microelectromechanical system.
  3. (figure skating) A technique, similar to the spread eagle, in which the skater travels along a deep edge with knees bent and bends their back backwards, parallel to the ice.

Derived terms[edit]



cantilever (third-person singular simple present cantilevers, present participle cantilevering, simple past and past participle cantilevered)

  1. To project (something) in the manner of or by means of a cantilever.
    • 2007 October 28, Nicolai Ouroussoff, “Where Gods Yearn for Long-Lost Treasures”, in New York Times[2]:
      Just above, the museums top floor seems to shift slightly, its corners cantilevering over the edge of the story below as if it is sliding off the top of the building.

Further reading[edit]