ca·​nal | \ kə-ˈnal How to pronounce canal (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of canal in a Sentence

Noun the Panama Canal opened a much easier and shorter passageway from the Atlantic to the Pacific
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There was one, one perched atop the canal, drinking from a Starbucks cup. Washington Post, "The latest show at Von Ammon Co. gallery is a mess. And that’s the point.," 10 Sep. 2020 The channel was dug between the two lakes in the early 1900s by the park system, then led by Superintendent Theodore Wirth, after a canal was dredged between Lake Calhoun, now called Bde Maka Ska, to Lake of the Isles. Kelly Smith, Star Tribune, "Minneapolis Park Board moves forward with $1M rehab of channel between Cedar and Lake of the Isles," 7 Sep. 2020 Because the floodwater came in contact with the adjacent active cell, it can't just be pumped back into the canal, it is being pumped into River Birch's deep well injection system. Chad Calder | Staff Writer,, "Jefferson Parish to temporarily divert trash to River Birch facility after July flooding incident," 2 Sep. 2020 When the screens are cleaned, a surge of water enters the canal causing headgate adjustments. Michael Kohn, oregonlive, "Deschutes River sees sudden, unexplained drops in water flow, concerning fish biologists," 26 Aug. 2020 The canal’s main cargo was coal, lumber and agricultural products, according to its National Park Service webpage. Pat Stoetzer,, "A Westminster 8-year-old learned to ride a bike during the pandemic. Now he’s riding to help preserve C&O Canal trails.," 21 Aug. 2020 Across the canal, Mackey’s neighbors weren’t as lucky. Kirsi-marja Hayrinen-beschloss, The New Republic, "“This Is a Paradise, but a Temporary One”," 20 Aug. 2020 Chicago was connected by canal to the Mississippi, to New Orleans, and so to South America and the Caribbean, in 1848. David Mamet, National Review, "Max the Hamster," 20 Aug. 2020 Numerous other high-profile cases have been delayed due to the pandemic, including the trial of Bryan Miller, who is accused of separate killings of a woman and a girl along the same canal in the early 1990s. Bree Burkitt, The Arizona Republic, "Trial for ex-Hacienda nurse accused of raping, impregnating patient delayed due to pandemic," 12 Aug. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about canal

Time Traveler for canal

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for canal

Last Updated

16 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Canal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for canal


How to pronounce canal (audio)

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 How to pronounce canal (audio) \

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 How to pronounce canal (audio) \

Medical Definition of canal

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on canal

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three bears two of them look like theyre whispering to a third bear who looks chuffed to be the center of attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!