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 As for the dozens of fish found in the canal, they were moved to continue their swimming journeys elsewhere. USA TODAY, "Electric car corridor, underwater gravestone search, scooters in canal: News from around our 50 states," 4 Feb. 2020 Jamieson swam in the canal for about 10 minutes and was unable to get out on his own, according to Hoster. Chelsea Curtis, azcentral, "Man accused of stealing alcohol and fleeing at Phoenix Open rescued from canal before arrest," 1 Feb. 2020 Police found the suspect shivering in a nearby canal a couple of hours later, according to Officer Eli Allen. oregonlive, "Oregon man on meth opened fire on two strangers outside steakhouse, cops say," 30 Jan. 2020 Elsewhere in Sandwich, a king eider was discovered in the canal at Scusset Beach., "Bird sightings on Cape Cod," 14 Jan. 2020 Fish in the Delta and in the canal are typically caught on ¼- to ½-ounce jigs—tip with a small sliver of shrimp to increase the bites; Frank Sargeant, al, "Friday Fishing Report: Plenty of good fishing during holidays," 20 Dec. 2019 Michael Ford, 45, was found dead in a canal near Fort Meade, a city in Polk County roughly 60 miles east of Tampa, on June 27. Fox News, "Florida man found eaten by alligator actually died from meth overdose, officials say," 12 Dec. 2019 And the waters in the canal began to flow backwards. National Geographic, "Episode 1: Digging up Disaster," 15 Oct. 2019 More than two years ago she was shot in the head and left for dead in a canal. Doug Criss, CNN, "5 things to know for October 7: Turkey, whistleblowers, protests, bar shooting, NYC attacks," 7 Oct. 2019

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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Statistics for canal

Last Updated

11 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Canal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on canal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for canal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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