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

It was found in the canal that runs just south of State Street when exiting the apartment complex on Wylie Lane. Ruth Brown, idahostatesman, "The man accused of killing toddler, stabbing 8 refugees, was arrested just 2 months ago," 2 July 2018 Bones said police believe the knife used in the stabbing was discarded by the suspect before his arrest and police searched around the apartment complex and in a nearby canal. CBS News, "Suspect arrested in Idaho mass stabbing that injured 9," 1 July 2018 The sick pilot whale was discovered in a canal near Thailand's border with Malaysia last week, Reuters reported. Mary Bowerman, USA TODAY, "Pilot whale dies after swallowing more than 80 plastic bags: 'Still going to dump trash?'," 4 June 2018 Later that day, the Walshes were in their hotel room when Hollywood police called with grim news: That morning, two fishermen had found a head bobbing in a canal in Vero Beach, Florida, 120 miles north of Hollywood., "PEOPLE Explains: Infamous Kidnappings Throughout History," 23 May 2018 The canal already had sunk several feet since the 1950s. Dale Kasler And Phillip Reese, sacbee, "The Valley floor is sinking, and it’s crippling California’s ability to deliver water," 13 July 2018 This year, the pumps that would be flooding his fields with water are silent, and the irrigation canal that runs by his property is nearly empty. Philip Issa, Fox News, "Iraq bans farming summer crops as water crisis grows dire," 5 July 2018 This year, the pumps that would be flooding his fields with water are silent, and the irrigation canal that runs by his property is nearly empty. Washington Post, "Iraq bans farming summer crops as water crisis grows dire," 5 July 2018 Meanwhile, the canals gradually filled up with sticks, logs and other debris. John Fialka, Scientific American, "A Wyoming Reservation Shows the New Face of Drought," 6 June 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

9 Sep 2018

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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