noun \kə-ˈnal\

: a long narrow place that is filled with water and was created by people so that boats could pass through it or to supply fields, crops, etc., with water

medical : a tube or passageway in the body

Full Definition of CANAL

:  a tubular anatomical passage or channel :  duct
:  an artificial waterway for navigation or for draining or irrigating land
:  any of various faint narrow lines on the planet Mars seen through telescopes and once thought by some to be canals built by Martians

Examples of CANAL

  1. <the Panama Canal opened a much easier and shorter passageway from the Atlantic to the Pacific>

Origin of CANAL

Middle English, from Latin canalis pipe, channel, from canna reed — more at cane
First Known Use: 15th century

Other Anatomy Terms

bilateral symmetry, carotid, cartilage, dorsal, entrails, prehensile, renal, solar plexus, supine, thoracic, ventral


canalled or canaledcanal·ling or canal·ing

Definition of CANAL

transitive verb
:  to construct a canal through or across

First Known Use of CANAL


Other Civil Engineering Terms

asphalt, ballast, barrage, cantilever, infrastructure, sluice


noun \kə-ˈnal\   (Medical Dictionary)

Medical Definition of CANAL

: a tubular anatomical passage or channel : duct—see alimentary canal, haversian canal, inguinal canal


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Canal with a basic lock arrangement. Boats traveling upstream pass from the lower to the upper pool …—© Merriam-Webster Inc.

Artificial waterway built for transportation, irrigation, water supply, or drainage. The early Middle Eastern civilizations probably first built canals to supply drinking and irrigation water. The most ambitious navigation canal was a 200-mi (320-km) construction in what is now Iraq. Roman canal systems for military transport extended throughout northern Europe and Britain. The most significant canal innovation was the pound lock, developed by the Dutch c. 1373. The closed chamber, or pound, of a lock is flooded or drained of water so that a vessel within it is raised or lowered in order to pass between bodies of water at different elevations. Canals were extremely important before the coming of the railroad in the mid-19th century. Among the significant waterways in the U.S. were the Erie Canal, several canals linking the Great Lakes, and one connecting the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River. Modern waterway engineering enables larger vessels to travel faster by reducing delays at locks. See also Grand Canal, Panama Canal, Suez Canal.


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