col·​o·​ny | \ ˈkä-lə-nē How to pronounce colony (audio) \
plural colonies

Definition of colony

1a : a body of people living in a new territory but retaining ties with the parent state a colony of settlers
b : the territory inhabited by such a body the 13 British colonies in America
2 : a distinguishable localized population within a species a colony of termites bird colonies on the island
3a : a circumscribed mass of microorganisms usually growing in or on a solid medium colonies of bacteria
b : the aggregation of zooids of a compound animal coral colonies
4a : a group of individuals or things with common characteristics or interests situated in close association an artist colony a nudist colony
b : the section occupied by such a group
5 : a group of persons institutionalized away from others a leper colony a penal colony also : the land or buildings occupied by such a group

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Synonyms for colony


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Examples of colony in a Sentence

Massachusetts was one of the original 13 British colonies that later became the United States. a former French colony in Africa
Recent Examples on the Web Midtown Manhattan was buzzing Tuesday when a large colony of bees gathered around a light pole, prompting onlookers to stop in amazement, at a distance of course. Fox News, 1 Sep. 2021 Hissène Habré was born on Aug. 13, 1942, to a family of herders in Largeau, in northern Chad, then a colony of France. New York Times, 24 Aug. 2021 Or kill that colony of ants invading your kitchen with this set of bait stations that has over 54,000 five-star ratings from Amazon shoppers. Lily Gray, Better Homes & Gardens, 11 Aug. 2021 Literally—a colony of bioluminescent dinoflagellates lives inside the clear aquarium at the top. Gear Team, Wired, 10 Aug. 2021 Johann Wolfgang Mohring was part of the huge migration of German-speakers to the colony of Pennsylvania long before the Revolution. Mary Ann Ashcraft,, 8 Aug. 2021 As the Transvaal region of modern-day South Africa (where the mine was located) was a British colony in the early 20th century, the diamond was sent to Buckingham Palace and presented to King Edward VII for inspection. Leena Kim, Town & Country, 14 Aug. 2021 The colony may be small or larger than a basketball. al, 27 July 2021 Chiang sent many of his officials to safety in Hong Kong, which was still a British colony. Jacqueline Cutler, Star Tribune, 27 July 2021

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for colony

Middle English colonie, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, from Latin colonia, from colonus farmer, colonist, from colere to cultivate — more at wheel

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Time Traveler for colony

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The first known use of colony was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near colony



colony collapse disorder

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Last Updated

15 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Colony.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for colony



English Language Learners Definition of colony

: an area that is controlled by or belongs to a country and is usually far away from it
: a group of people sent by a country to live in such a colony
: a group of plants or animals living or growing in one place


col·​o·​ny | \ ˈkä-lə-nē How to pronounce colony (audio) \
plural colonies

Kids Definition of colony

1 : a distant territory belonging to or under the control of a nation
2 : a group of people sent out by a government to a new territory
3 : a group of living things of one kind living together a colony of ants
4 : a group of people with common qualities or interests located in close association an art colony


col·​o·​ny | \ ˈkäl-ə-nē How to pronounce colony (audio) \
plural colonies

Medical Definition of colony

: a circumscribed mass of microorganisms usually growing in or on a solid medium

More from Merriam-Webster on colony

Nglish: Translation of colony for Spanish Speakers

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


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