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

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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 Wilson’s car flipped into a canal, where the University of Central Florida engineering graduate drowned. Marc Freeman,, 13 Sep. 2021 When Venice emptied out after lockdown was declared in early 2020, pictures began to surface of near-empty sidewalks and a totally clear canal, inspiring major pangs for all of us missing la dolce vita. Devorah Lev-tov, Travel + Leisure, 8 Sep. 2021 The canal next to the boulevard leading to her apartment floods. Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Time, 2 Sep. 2021 The architecture, the canal, and the impression of Venice are completely recognizable, almost unchanged from the scene today. Rebecca Ann Hughes, Forbes, 31 Aug. 2021 The water was so low this winter that dredging crews were basically digging a canal, not a channel, out into Eagle Harbor. Dan Egan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 23 Aug. 2021 The canal, the main waterway for Gulf exports to the West, was paralyzed early this year when a massive tanker ran aground there., 14 Aug. 2021 Two weeks later, after an appearance on Good Morning America, Revé and John learned that their son’s severed head had been discovered in an Indian River County canal, approximately 1,205 miles north of the scene of his disappearance. Paul M. Renfro, The New Republic, 13 Aug. 2021 Falling blocks from the temple protected the sunken galley by pinning it to the bottom of the canal, which was then filled with debris. Radina Gigova, CNN, 3 Aug. 2021

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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Time Traveler for canal

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

17 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Canal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2021.

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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
: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on canal

Nglish: Translation of canal for Spanish Speakers

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


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