can·​on·​ize ˈka-nə-ˌnīz How to pronounce canonize (audio)
canonized ˈka-nə-ˌnīzd How to pronounce canonize (audio)
in "Hamlet" usually
kə-ˈnä-ˌnīzd How to pronounce canonize (audio)
; canonizing

transitive verb

: to declare (a deceased person) an officially recognized saint
: to make canonical
: to sanction by ecclesiastical authority
: to attribute authoritative sanction or approval to
: to treat as illustrious, preeminent, or sacred
his mother had canonized all his timidities as common senseScott Fitzgerald
canonization noun

Examples of canonize in a Sentence

She died 100 years ago and was canonized in Rome last year. a singing star so canonized by his fans that they refuse to believe anything bad about him
Recent Examples on the Web Previously obscure works are rediscovered and canonized generations or centuries after they were published. Samuel Goldman, WSJ, 20 Oct. 2023 At the same time, enough time had passed for ’90s music to begin getting canonized. Vulture, 18 Sep. 2023 What had been a local rivalry between sects—one side of the story—was canonized into an immortal battle between good and evil. Rich Cohen, Rolling Stone, 26 Sep. 2023 Jane Birkin, the English singer, actor, and Francophile canonized for her spitfire Sixties style, died on Sunday, July 16 at the age of 76, according to a report from Le Parisien. Ellen Burney, Vogue, 16 July 2023 The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is what canonized so many of our own feelings. Kerane Marcellus, Essence, 22 June 2023 What's next for sainthood In order for Casey to be canonized, a second miracle needs to be recorded and documented at the Vatican following the beatification. Marina Johnson, Detroit Free Press, 16 Feb. 2023 That question arises after viewing Abel Ferrara’s Padre Pio, putatively about Francesco Forgione, who was canonized Saint Pio of Pietrelcina in 2002 by Pope John Paul II. Armond White, National Review, 2 June 2023 The Catholic News Agency reports that more than 100 incorruptible bodies have been canonized – their bodies defying the decaying process. Raja Razek, CNN, 26 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'canonize.' 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 English, from Medieval Latin canonizare, from Late Latin canon catalog of saints, from Latin, standard

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of canonize was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near canonize

Cite this Entry

“Canonize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


can·​on·​ize ˈkan-ə-ˌnīz How to pronounce canonize (audio)
canonized; canonizing
: to declare to be a saint and worthy of public respect
: to treat something as if it were sacred

More from Merriam-Webster on canonize

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!