Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun chan·nel \ˈcha-nəl\

Definition of channel

  1. 1 a :  the bed where a natural stream of water runs b :  the deeper part of a river, harbor, or strait c :  a strait or narrow sea between two close landmasses d :  a means of communication or expression: as (1) :  a path along which information (as data or music) in the form of an electrical signal passes (2) plural :  a fixed or official course of communication <went through established military channels with his grievances> e :  a way, course, or direction of thought or action <new channels of exploration> f :  a band of frequencies of sufficient width for a single radio or television communication g :  channeler

  2. 2 a :  a usually tubular enclosed passage :  conduit b :  a passage created in a selectively permeable cell membrane by a conformational change in membrane proteins; also :  the proteins of such a passage — compare ion channel

  3. 3 :  a long gutter, groove, or furrow

  4. 4 :  a metal bar of flattened U-shaped section

Origin of channel

Middle English chanel, from Anglo-French, from Latin canalis channel — more at canal

First Known Use: 14th century

Rhymes with channel



verb chan·nel

Simple Definition of channel

  • : to express (your ideas, thoughts, feelings, energy, etc.) through a particular behavior or action

  • : to send (food, money, etc.) to someone or something

  • : to carry and move (something, such as water) in or through a tube, passage, etc.

Full Definition of channel

channeled or channelledchannel·ing or channel·ling

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to form, cut, or wear a channel in b :  to make a groove in <channel a chair leg>

  3. 2 :  to convey or direct into or through a channel <channel his energy into useful work>

  4. 3 :  to serve as a channeler or intermediary for

Examples of channel

  1. She's started channeling her anger towards me.

  2. He channeled millions of dollars into the program.

  3. Their irrigation system channels water to the corn fields.

15th Century

First Known Use of channel

15th century



noun chan·nel

Definition of channel

  1. :  one of the flat ledges of heavy plank or metal bolted edgewise to the outside of a ship to increase the spread of the shrouds

Origin of channel

alteration of chainwale, from 1chain + 1wale

First Known Use: 1769

Medical Dictionary


noun chan·nel \ˈchan-əl\

Medical Definition of channel

  1. 1:  a usually tubular enclosed passage

  2. 2a:  a passage created in a selectively permeable membrane by a conformational change in membrane proteins—see ion channelb:  a protein or cluster of proteins that functions as a channel—see calcium channel blocker

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up channel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 11, 2016

the holder of an office

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


How much does a batman (the Turkish unit of measurement) weigh?

100 pounds 16.96 pounds 2.2 pounds 196.5 pounds
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.