ca·​nary kə-ˈner-ē How to pronounce canary (audio)
plural canaries
: a Canary Islands usually sweet wine similar to Madeira
: a lively 16th century court dance
: 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

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 on the Web After cruises became the canary in the coal mine for the tourism industry’s decimation during the pandemic, bookings have come roaring back. Leo Schwartz, Fortune, 26 June 2024 Lawrence Levy, a Hofstra professor who studies political trends in suburbia, called the verdict in the 3rd Congressional District a canary in the coal mine for Republican chances in November. Dave Goldiner, New York Daily News, 14 Feb. 2024 In that sense, the demise of Europe’s business conferences is just the canary in the coal mine. Peter Vanham, Fortune, 5 June 2024 Women and children are 'canaries in the coal mine' of community health, says U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore When mothers thrive, their babies thrive. Natalie Eilbert, Journal Sentinel, 4 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for canary 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'canary.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle French canarie, from Old Spanish canario, from Islas Canarias Canary Islands

First Known Use

1592, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of canary was in 1592

Dictionary Entries Near canary

Cite this Entry

“Canary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


ca·​nary kə-ˈne(ə)r-ē How to pronounce canary (audio)
plural canaries
: a small usually yellow or greenish finch native to the Canary Islands that is often kept in a cage

More from Merriam-Webster on canary

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