A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellants to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees, depending on their intended use on the battlefield. The word cannon is derived from several languages, in which the original definition can usually be translated as tube, cane, or reed. In the modern era, the term cannon has fallen into decline, replaced by "guns" or "artillery" if not a more specific term such as "mortar" or "howitzer", except for in the field of aerial warfare, where it is usually shorthand for autocannon.
First invented in China, cannon were among the earliest forms of gunpowder artillery, and over time replaced siege engines—among other forms of ageing weaponry—on the battlefield. In the Middle East, the first use of the hand cannon is argued to be during the 1260 Battle of Ain Jalut between the Mamluks and Mongols. The first cannon in Europe were probably used in Iberia in the 11th and 12th centuries.