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

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 : 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

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Other Words from canvas


canvaslike \ ˈkan-​vəs-​ˌlīk How to pronounce canvaslike (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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun His canvas of marbled grays and reds soon starts to look like a city. Madeline Mitchell,, "'Are you Owen from Cincinnati?' 17-year-old Blink muralist gains national recognition," 7 Jan. 2020 And then there are the ones living on borrowed time — whether to be concealed by a new building, or have their masonry canvas shredded so that a new building can rise. John King,, "Urban Handbook: Ghost signs’ often-brief lives tell stories of the past," 31 Dec. 2019 After a child paints their canvas, Rosie and her mom print the child’s design on a scarf or cape. Angela Blakely, USA TODAY, "Girl with alopecia creates confidence for other children with head scarves," 19 Dec. 2019 Though its pigment is faded and its rocky canvas chipped, the mural is a breathtaking work of art that hints at the sophistication of its creators. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Newly Discovered Indonesian Cave Art May Represent World’s Oldest Known Hunting Scene," 12 Dec. 2019 Eugène Delacroix, one of the greatest painters of France’s 19th-century Romantic school, is known for the large areas of shadow and gloom on his canvases, which have struck scholars as likely candidates for the use of mummy brown. National Geographic, "Europe's morbid 'mummy craze' has been an obsession for centuries," 10 Dec. 2019 Novelists have stretched their canvases — writing a sentence that runs for a thousand pages; charting the fate of three families in Africa across four generations. New York Times, "Times Critics’ Top Books of 2019," 5 Dec. 2019 Looking at the space with no walls and more like a blank canvas is a great starting point. Kathy Anderson And Stephanie Vaughan, Houston Chronicle, "Purposeful design enhances the living experience," 14 Dec. 2019 But this time, Bong’s canvas is a thousand times smaller and his focus light-years more intense. Mark Kennedy, Detroit Free Press, "‘Parasite’ is a brilliant depiction of class warfare," 31 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb When that happens, workers are sent to canvas the city aiming to bring homeless individuals to the emergency shelters that expand capacity during the code. Mckenna Oxenden,, "78-year-old homeless man dies after being struck by MTA Mobility bus in downtown Baltimore," 6 Dec. 2019 Barnstormers also received canvasing training from the campaign nearby. Sarah Ewall-wice, CBS News, ""Barnstormers for Pete" look to boost Buttigieg's chances in early states," 14 Nov. 2019 On the north side of Milwaukee, BLOC — Black Leaders Organizing for Communities — has trained 16 paid civic ambassadors to canvas neighborhoods. Karen Heller, Washington Post, "All eyes are on Wisconsin, the state that’s gearing up to define the presidential election," 5 Nov. 2019 Messengers may engage in activities like door to door canvasing, hosting community events, and spreading new positive norms shift peer dynamics and delegitimize violence. Twin Cities, "Bravo, Honsey, LeBlanc, Sethuraju, Swift: For safety’s sake, St. Paul must heal the root causes of violence," 17 Sep. 2019 To his luck, detectives canvasing the area found Quavo running around the Crown Hill area, a neighborhood in Seattle. Georgia Slater,, "Seattle Man With Parkinson's Reunited With His Stolen Bulldog Weeks After Dog's Disappearance," 17 Sep. 2019 The Coast Guard continued Wednesday to canvas the Atlantic shoreline, combing through trash and debris fields from northern Brevard to the Carolinas. J.d. Gallop, USA TODAY, "Rescue teams battle time and Gulf Stream current in search for firefighters missing at sea," 21 Aug. 2019 Volunteers and staff from the city, county and nonprofits canvass the county to find anyone who might fit the definition of homelessness to put together a census., "Multnomah County sees 20% more people sleeping outside in latest homeless count," 1 Aug. 2019 His Saturday itinerary includes events in Manchester, Nashua, and Exeter, N.H., In Manchester, Booker joined incumbent Mayor Joyce Craig to help rally supporters and canvas the city in support of Craig’s reelection campaign. Jeremy C. Fox,, "Cory Booker courts N.H. voters," 13 July 2019

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.

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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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for canvas

Last Updated

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Canvas.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for canvas


How to pronounce canvas (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of canvas

: a strong, rough cloth that is used to make bags, tents, sails, etc.
: a specially prepared piece of cloth on which a picture can be painted by an artist
: a painting made on a piece of cloth


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

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Comments on canvas

What made you want to look up canvas? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to insert between existing elements

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