can·​vas | \ ˈkan-vəs How to pronounce canvas (audio) \
variants: or less commonly canvass
plural canvases also canvasses

Definition of canvas

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a firm closely woven cloth usually of linen, hemp, or cotton used for clothing and formerly much used for tents and sails
2a : a piece of cloth backed or framed as a surface for a painting an artist's canvas also : the painting on such a surface
b : something likened to a painter's canvas … just up the driveway is an extraordinary piece of garden design. [Ruth] Bancroft is the artist and her canvas is a three-acre patch of land in the midst of suburbia.— Harriet Chiang In addition to the cover-up work, [Miryam] Lumpini will turn the dimpled canvas of a young man's back into a magnificent phoenix.Allure The birds were moving art on a canvas of sky and water and endless prairie.— Shannon Tompkins
c : the background, setting, or scope of a historical or fictional account or narrative the crowded canvas of history
3 : a piece of canvas used for a particular purpose a hammock made of canvas
4 : tent also : a group of tents
5 : a set of sails : sail sailing under full canvas
6 : a stiff material (as of coarse cloth or plastic) that has regular meshes for working with a needle (as in needlepoint)
7 : the canvas-covered floor of a boxing or wrestling ring


canvased or canvassed; canvasing or canvassing

Definition of canvas (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to cover, line, or furnish with canvas

Other Words from canvas


canvaslike \ ˈkan-​vəs-​ˌlīk How to pronounce canvas (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for canvas

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of canvas in a Sentence

Noun a tent made of canvas Use a canvas to cover the boat. The museum has several canvases by Rubens.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Russell returned on Thursday morning to Centennial with an easel, canvas and paintbrushes. Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News, 7 Aug. 2022 Long known for its world-class collection of drawings and prints, the Albertina has undergone a radical transformation over the last few decades, adding paintings on canvas and other media and opening a new building, the Albertina Modern, in 2020. J.s. Marcus, WSJ, 22 July 2022 Take a Maison Margiela rubber and canvas tote to the beach and easily wipe off the worry of ocean salt and sand. Gaby Keiderling, Vogue, 22 July 2022 The units are made of biodegradable materials including recycled wood, burlap canvas, and coconut fiber. Collin Robisheaux,, 14 July 2022 The set comes complete with a hairpiece, canvas and painter's palette. Cameron Jenkins, Good Housekeeping, 21 June 2022 Footwear included furry slippers, canvas or macrame sneakers with rope laces. Colleen Barry, ajc, 18 June 2022 An expansion of the French luxury house’s Maison line of home and travel items, the collection includes collars and leashes in refined calfskin and canvas, either in tan or black, and with the option of metallic studs. New York Times, 16 June 2022 What would a camping trip be without a roof, or canvas, overhead? J.d. Simkins, Sunset Magazine, 2 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb This writer walked over 10 miles a day in an effort to canvas the city and still left feeling as though more could have been seen. Fiona Sinclair Scott, CNN, 14 May 2022 Police on Friday said no suspect was placed into custody and officers continued to canvas the neighborhood into the evening. Sarah Nelson, The Indianapolis Star, 25 Apr. 2022 The sexennial appraisal, like the one conducted in 2018, is a full appraisal, based upon on-the-ground evaluations by a team of appraisers who canvas neighborhoods countywide. Courtney Astolfi, cleveland, 21 Sep. 2021 Later that afternoon, dozens of members of UNITE Here Local 26, which represents workers in the hotel industry, rallied for Janey, the acting mayor, by the Mecca shopping plaza at Grove Hall, preparing to canvas the neighborhood., 13 Sep. 2021 Investigators continued to canvas the apartment complex for witnesses after 12:15 a.m. Sarah Nelson, The Indianapolis Star, 28 Aug. 2021 Because these are private spaces, those who are conducting the count don’t canvas the people there. Valeria Ricciulli, Curbed, 28 May 2021 Officers continued to canvas the area and discovered a 32-year-old man on the ground with a gunshot wound to the head, and he also was taken in critical condition to the same hospital where he was pronounced dead. Deanese Williams-harris,, 15 May 2021 The Biden administration suggested states could use some of the funding to support rural and faith-based organizations to canvas their neighborhoods to schedule vaccine appointments. Cassidy Morrison, Washington Examiner, 11 Apr. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'canvas.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of canvas


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1556, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for canvas

Noun and Verb

Middle English canevas, from Anglo-French canevas, chanevaz, from Vulgar Latin *cannabaceus hempen, from Latin cannabis hemp — more at cannabis

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Time Traveler for canvas

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The first known use of canvas was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

12 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Canvas.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for canvas


can·​vas | \ ˈkan-vəs How to pronounce canvas (audio) \

Kids Definition of canvas

1 : a strong cloth of hemp, flax, or cotton canvas bags
2 : a specially prepared piece of cloth used as a surface for painting

More from Merriam-Webster on canvas

Nglish: Translation of canvas for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of canvas for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about canvas


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