Definition of canary
1 : a Canary Islands usually sweet wine similar to Madeira
2 : a lively 16th century court dance
3 : a small finch (Serinus canarius synonym S. canaria) of the Canary Islands that is usually greenish to yellow and is kept as a cage bird and singer
4 slang : informer 2
Examples of canary in a Sentence
a canary who was singing and giving up the names of some of the city's most notorious drug lords
Recent Examples of canary from the Web
As a measure of the democratic process, the press briefing can act as the canary in the coal mine.
That’s making many wonder: Is Whittier an outlier or a bellwether, an unfortunate white elephant or the proverbial canary in the coal mine?
Vulnerable communities, the ‘canaries in the coalmines’ of displacement, are disappearing from the cultural landscape.
Played with almost indecent relish by John Lithgow, Strutt has the smile of a cat who swallows a bushel of canaries at every meal.
Comey’s fate is one potential canary in the coal mine.
These iconic birds are literally canaries in the coal mine.
Jenny Williams’s 20-year-old dream of owning a blue canary in the outlet by the lightswitch has finally come true!
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'canary'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Origin and Etymology of canary
Medieval French canarie, from Old Spanish canario, from Islas Canarias Canary Islands
First Known Use: 1584See Words from the same year
CANARY Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of canary for English Language Learners
: a small usually yellow or green tropical bird that is often kept in a cage
CANARY Defined for Kids
Definition of canary for Students
: a small usually yellow songbird often kept in a cage
Seen and Heard
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