ca·​nal | \ kə-ˈnal \

Definition of canal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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


canalled or canaled; canalling or canaling

Definition of canal (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to construct a canal through or across

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Examples of canal in a Sentence


the Panama Canal opened a much easier and shorter passageway from the Atlantic to the Pacific

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The woman's car veered into a canal near Alma School Road south of the Loop 202 freeway in north Mesa, according to the Mesa Fire Department. Chris Coppola, azcentral, "Mesa firefighters rescue woman from car submerged in a canal," 9 July 2018 On Thursday, police found human remains in a box along a Broward County canal. Charles Rabin, miamiherald, "Human parts in box by canal are missing Miami woman, cops suspect. Husband jailed," 15 June 2018 Last week, a small male pilot whale was found struggling, unable to swim or breathe, in a Thai canal near the Malaysia border. Elaina Zachos, National Geographic, "How This Whale Got Nearly 20 Pounds of Plastic in Its Stomach," 4 June 2018 Thailand's Department of Marine and Coastal Resources said the small pilot whale was found last Monday in a canal near Thailand's border with Malaysia. Travis Fedschun, Fox News, "Whale dies in Thailand after eating more than 80 plastic bags," 4 June 2018 Douglas crashed his car into a canal near Fairfield Avenue in Harvey, swam to the other side and lost pursuing deputies by running through neighboring backyards, authorities said. Michelle Hunter,, "New Orleans man stalked, beat and raped ex-girlfriend: JPSO," 23 May 2018 By the mid-1800s, rail had largely supplanted canals, the favored, government-subsidized, means of moving goods and passengers. Patrick Cooke, WSJ, "‘Romance of the Rails’ Review: Hear That Lonesome Whistle?," 23 Jan. 2019 Zander Brown, who police said had autism, was found in the canal behind his home and taken to a hospital, Lauderhill police said. Juan Ortega,, "Boy, 5, dies after being found in Lauderhill canal," 9 July 2018 Someone contacted Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Office about 11:30 a.m. Saturday after seeing the truck in the canal, state police said. Emily Lane,, "Body located in Plaquemines Parish canal, day after truck found in water: state police," 21 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'canal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of canal


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1792, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for canal


Middle English, from Latin canalis pipe, channel, from canna reed — more at cane

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Statistics for canal

Last Updated

11 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for canal

The first known use of canal was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for canal



English Language Learners Definition of canal

: 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


ca·​nal | \ kə-ˈnal \

Kids Definition of canal

1 : an artificial waterway for boats or for irrigation of land
2 : a tubelike passage in the body The ear canal leads from the opening of the ear to the eardrum.


ca·​nal | \ kə-ˈnal \

Medical Definition of canal

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on canal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with canal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for canal

Spanish Central: Translation of canal

Nglish: Translation of canal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of canal for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about canal

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