colony

noun

col·​o·​ny ˈkä-lə-nē How to pronounce colony (audio)
plural colonies
1
: an area over which a foreign nation or state extends or maintains control
a former colony
"British America" in 1776 signified not only the thirteen colonies and [the historical region called] the Floridas, but also Canada, Nova Scotia, and Britain's Caribbean colonies Linda Colley
also : a group of people who establish residence in that area and who retain ties with the parent state
members of Plymouth colony
2
: a group of people who settle together in a new place
… building an ecosystem from scratch on Mars that can provide food, water and oxygen to support a colony is no small task. Eric Mack
also : the land or buildings used by such a group
… suggested … the possibility that crops grown inside the [theoretical Mars] colony would produce suffocating levels of oxygen. Scott Dance
3
: a distinguishable localized population of a species or type of organism
a colony of termites/ants
The birds [black skimmers] generally nest in colonies along beaches, with the largest colony in Florida residing on Marco Island. Karl Schneider
4
a
: 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 (such as a coral or bryozoan)
A new coral colony is begun when a planula settles down on a reef, attaches itself there, and forms the first polyp, from which others bud. Joseph E. Neigel and John C. Avise
5
: a group of individuals or things with common characteristics or interests living in close association
an artist colony
a nudist colony
also : the land or buildings used by such a group
6
: a group of persons institutionalized away from others
a leper colony
a penal colony
also : the land or buildings used by such a group

Example Sentences

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 Even when a coral colony survives, the stress takes a toll. Michael Robinson Chavez, Washington Post, 22 Nov. 2022 According to the National Institutes of Health, the probiotic supplement dosage is 1 to 10 billion colony-forming units (CFU). Valerie Agyeman, Good Housekeeping, 22 Nov. 2022 The Philippines, a former American colony, used to host one of the largest U.S. Navy and Air Force bases outside the American mainland. Jim Gomez, BostonGlobe.com, 21 Nov. 2022 Hopefully, this completion of Orion’s lunar flyby is just the start of a blooming exploration of the Moon that ends with a colony on the lunar surface. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 21 Nov. 2022 The Philippines, a former American colony, used to host one of the largest U.S. Navy and Air Force bases outside the American mainland. Jim Gomez, ajc, 21 Nov. 2022 The true events took place in a Mennonite colony in Bolivia, where women and girls were drugged and raped repeatedly over the course of four years. Sasha Urban, Variety, 19 Nov. 2022 These witnesses enhance our understanding of both the colony and the vibrancy of Indigenous communities of southern and coastal New England. Peter C. Mancall, WSJ, 18 Nov. 2022 Situated in the small town of Yavas, about 270 miles southeast of Moscow, penal colony IK-2 was founded for the Soviet gulag system in 1931. Juliet Butler, Peoplemag, 18 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

circa 1550, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of colony was circa 1550

Dictionary Entries Near colony

Cite this Entry

“Colony.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/colony. Accessed 26 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

colony

noun

col·​o·​ny ˈkäl-ə-nē How to pronounce colony (audio)
plural colonies
1
a
: a group of people sent out by a state to a new territory
b
: the territory in which such colonists live
c
: a distant territory belonging to or under the control of a nation
2
a
: a population of plants or animals in a particular place that belong to one species
b
: a mass of microbes usually growing in or on a solid food source (as agar)
3
: a group of people with common qualities or interests located in close association
an artist colony

Medical Definition

colony

noun

col·​o·​ny ˈkäl-ə-nē How to pronounce colony (audio)
plural colonies
: a circumscribed mass of microorganisms usually growing in or on a solid medium

More from Merriam-Webster on colony

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