ca·​non·​i·​cal kə-ˈnä-ni-kəl How to pronounce canonical (audio)
: of, relating to, or forming a canon
canonical scriptures
: conforming to a general rule or acceptable procedure : orthodox
His proposals were generally accepted as canonical.
: of or relating to a clergyman who is a canon
: reduced to the canonical form
a canonical matrix
canonically adverb

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web But none have yet been attempted in the Middle East’s canonical shatter zone. New York Times, 20 Apr. 2022 Amneris is a canonical role in the dusky mezzo-soprano repertoire, which Ms. Bumbry mastered in her early years onstage. Emily Langer,, 8 May 2023 But this time, the culprit is an unquestionably canonical producer. Andre Gee, Rolling Stone, 4 May 2023 The notion that Trump was the deserved winner has remained a canonical belief among Republicans—the first purity test any member of the party must pass. Jason Linkins, The New Republic, 29 Apr. 2023 But the scribes who copied the canonical scriptures called sutras during the first centuries of Japanese Buddhism employed a more generic style. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 25 Apr. 2023 As part of the festivities, the episode gives us a good look at USS Enterprise-F, a ship which has existed for a decade-plus in Star Trek Online but is only making its first canonical appearance in Picard. Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica, 13 Apr. 2023 The brilliance of Ijames’ play lies in its manipulation of a canonical text in service of imagining Black futures and positing radical possibility where others see only foreclosure. Naveen Kumar, Variety, 12 Apr. 2023 With many great canonical works, the audience must rely on an unreliable narrator and use their own discernment to identify the truth. Vulture, 23 Mar. 2023 See More

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

Word History


see canon entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of canonical was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near canonical

Cite this Entry

“Canonical.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


ca·​non·​i·​cal kə-ˈnän-i-kəl How to pronounce canonical (audio)
: relating to or allowed by church law
: following a general rule or accepted procedure
canonically adverb
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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