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1746 (MDCCXLVI) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar, the 1746th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 746th year of the 2nd millennium, the 46th year of the 18th century, and the 7th year of the 1740s decade. As of the start of 1746, the Gregorian calendar was 11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.
- January 8 – The Young Pretender Charles Edward Stuart occupies Stirling.
- January 17 – Battle of Falkirk Muir: British Government forces are defeated by Jacobite forces.
- April 16 – The Battle of Culloden in Scotland, the final pitched battle fought on British soil, brings an end to the Jacobite rising of 1745.
- June 16 – Battle of Piacenza: Austrian forces defeat French and Spanish troops.
- June 18 – Samuel Johnson is contracted to write his A Dictionary of the English Language.
- June 29 – Catherine of Ricci (b. 1522) is canonized.
- August 1 – The wearing of the kilt is banned in Scotland by the Dress Act (Note: the actual effective date of the Dress Act was August 1, 1747, not 1746).
- August 18 – Two of the four rebellious Scottish lords, Earl of Kilmarnock and Lord Balmerinoch, are beheaded in the Tower of London (Lord Lovat is executed in 1747).
- September 20 – Bonnie Prince Charlie flees to the Isle of Skye from Arisaig, after the unsuccessful Jacobite rising of 1745, marked by the Prince's Cairn on the banks of Loch nan Uamh.
- October 11 – War of the Austrian Succession – Battle of Rocoux: The French army defeat the allied Austrian, British, Hanoveran and Dutch army in Rocourt.
- October 22 – The College of New Jersey is founded (it becomes Princeton University in 1896).
- October 28 – An earthquake demolishes Lima and Callao, in Peru.
- Eva Ekeblad reports her discovery, of how to make flour and alcohol from potatoes, to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
- The town of Vilkovo (Odes'ka oblast', Ukraine) is founded.
- Royal Colony of North Carolina Governor Gabriel Johnston moves to the province's largest and most prosperous city of New Bern. As a result, New Bern replaces Edenton as the capital of North Carolina (a title it holds until Raleigh is established in 1792).
- Charles Batteux's Les beaux-arts réduits à un même principe is published in Paris, putting forward for the first time the idea of "les beaux arts": "the fine arts".
- January 4 – Benjamin Rush, Founding Father of the United States (d. 1813)
- January 12 – Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, Swiss pedagogue (d. 1827)
- January 24 – King Gustav III of Sweden (d. 1792)
- February 4 – Tadeusz Kościuszko, Polish general and nationalist (d. 1817)
- February 5 – Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, American politician and soldier (d. 1825)
- March 3 – Izabela Czartoryska, Polish magnate princess (d. 1835)
- March 7 – André Michaux, French botanist (d. 1802)
- March 30 – Francisco Goya, Spanish painter (d. 1828)
- April 4 – John Andrews, American clergyman, Provost of the University of Pennsylvania, considered America's first scholar (d. 1813)
- July 3 – Henry Grattan, Irish politician (d. 1820)
- July 16 – Giuseppe Piazzi, Italian astronomer (d. 1826)
- July 23 – Bernardo de Gálvez, Spanish military leader, aided the United States in its quest for independence in the American Revolutionary War (d. 1786)
- July 30 – Louise du Pierry, French astronomer (d. 1807)
- September 28 – Sir William Jones, English philologist (d. 1794)
- October 7 – William Billings, American composer (d. 1800)
- November 27 – Robert R. Livingston, American signer of the Declaration of Independence (d. 1813)
- December 29 – Saverio Cassar, Gozitan priest and rebel leader (d. 1805)
- date unknown
- February 4 – Robert Blair, Scottish poet and cleric (b. 1699)
- February 28 – Hermann von der Hardt, German historian (b. 1660)
- March 18 – Grand Duchess Anna Leopoldovna of Russia, regent of Russia (b. 1718)
- March 20 – Nicolas de Largillière, French painter (b. 1656)
- April 29 – William Flower, 1st Baron Castle Durrow, Irish politician (b. 1685)
- May 6 – William Tennent, Scottish-American theologian (b. 1673)
- May 22 – Thomas Southerne, Irish playwright (b. 1660)
- June 14 – Colin Maclaurin, Scottish mathematician (b. 1698)
- July 2 – Thomas Baker, English antiquarian (b. 1656)
- July 9 – King Philip V of Spain (b. 1683)
- July 28 – John Peter Zenger, American printer, whose court case advanced freedom of the press in the American colonies (b. 1697)
- July 30 – Francesco Trevisani, Italian painter (b. 1656)
- August 6 – Christian VI, King of Denmark and Norway (b. 1699)
- August 8 – Francis Hutcheson, Irish philosopher (b. 1694)
- October 2 – Josiah Burchett, English Secretary of the Admiralty (b. c. 1666)
- November 14 – Georg Wilhelm Steller, German naturalist (b. 1709)
- December 6 – Lady Grizel Baillie, Scottish poet (b. 1665)
- December 8 – Charles Radclyffe, British politician (b. 1693)
- Anton Josef Kirchweger, German writer