ca·​non·​i·​cal | \ kə-ˈnä-ni-kəl How to pronounce canonical (audio) \

Definition of canonical

1 : of, relating to, or forming a canon canonical scriptures
2 : conforming to a general rule or acceptable procedure : orthodox His proposals were generally accepted as canonical.
3 : of or relating to a clergyman who is a canon
4 : reduced to the canonical form a canonical matrix

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Other Words from canonical

canonically \ kə-​ˈnä-​ni-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce canonical (audio) \ adverb

Examples of canonical in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In a crucial new piece of canonical film lore, Inverseinterviewed Gilliam for an oral history of his 1995 film 12 Monkeys. Rebecca Alter, Vulture, "Terry Gilliam Says Bruce Willis’s Mouth Looks Like a Butt," 5 Jan. 2021 Unlike most canonical Christmas classics, The Holiday dismisses the usual Christmas movie tropes — and, honestly, any sort of conflict all together. Shannon Carlin,, "Sorry To Bring This Up, But Is The Holiday Really A Christmas Movie?," 10 Dec. 2020 If anything, this martyrology feels more Christian than Jewish, which might explain why the Books of the Maccabees are canonical in the Catholic faith but not the Jewish one (though there are many theories on this question). David Harsanyi, National Review, "The True Meaning of Hanukkah," 9 Dec. 2020 Books by white authors became the canonical ones framing race as a form of caste. Gaiutra Bahadur, The New Republic, "Is America Trapped in a Caste System?," 25 Nov. 2020 The review board of the Des Moines diocese determined that the evidence did not meet the criteria necessary to take the case to the Vatican for further review or a canonical trial. Ryan Foley,, "Church lets Iowa priest-professor return to work despite finding of sexual misconduct," 24 Nov. 2020 The allegation was the first solid claim against McCarrick involving a minor and triggered the canonical trial that resulted in McCarrick being defrocked. Fox News, "Key findings in Vatican report into ex-Cardinal McCarrick," 10 Nov. 2020 The allegation was the first solid claim against McCarrick involving a minor and triggered the canonical trial that resulted in his defrocking. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Vatican investigation faults many, including two former popes, for Theodore McCarrick’s rise despite sexual misconduct," 10 Nov. 2020 Crouch was raised in Los Angeles by his mother and from childhood on wanted to learn, reading William Faulkner, Mark Twain and other canonical writers and teaching himself how to drum. Hillel Italie, USA TODAY, "Stanley Crouch, contentious critic who equated jazz to 'this crazy quilt called America', dead at 74," 18 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'canonical.' 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 canonical

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for canonical

see canon entry 1

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Time Traveler for canonical

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

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Last Updated

12 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Canonical.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for canonical


How to pronounce canonical (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of canonical

: connected with or allowed by the laws of the Christian church
: of or relating to the books that are considered to be part of a religion's official text
: of or relating to the group of books, plays, poems, etc., that are traditionally considered to be very important

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