Loose-cannon meaning

The definition of a loose cannon is someone or something unpredictable who could do something destructive or dangerous at any time.

An example of a loose cannon is your drunk uncle at your wedding who may or may not start to yell at everyone and throw a fit.

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One that is uncontrolled and therefore poses danger.
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A careless, uncontrollable person whose words or actions cause embarrassment or harm to others.
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(nautical) A cannon that breaks loose from its moorings on a ship during battle or storm, which has the potential to cause serious damage to the ship and its crew.
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(idiomatic, by extension) An uncontrolled or unpredictable person who causes damage to their own faction, political party, etc.

Jack is considered a loose cannon due to his volatile personality and his track record of being unable to maintain his composure.

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(idiomatic) To behave in a way such as to cause damage to one's own faction, political party etc.
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Origin of loose-cannon

  • From the threat posed by loose cannon rolling about a warship under sail

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition