canon

1 of 3

noun (1)

can·​on ˈka-nən How to pronounce canon (audio)
1
a
: a regulation or dogma decreed by a church council
b
: a provision of canon law
2
[Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin, from Latin, model] : the most solemn and unvarying part of the Mass including the consecration of the bread and wine
3
[Middle English, from Late Latin, from Latin, standard]
a
: an authoritative list of books accepted as Holy Scripture
b
: the authentic works of a writer
the Chaucer canon
c
: a sanctioned or accepted group or body of related works
the canon of great literature
4
a
: an accepted principle or rule
b
: a criterion or standard of judgment
the canons of good taste
c
: a body of principles, rules, standards, or norms
according to newspaper canon … a big story calls for a lot of copyA. J. Liebling
5
[Late Greek kanōn, from Greek, model] : a contrapuntal musical composition in which each successively entering voice presents the initial theme usually transformed in a strictly consistent way

canon

2 of 3

noun (2)

1
: a clergyman belonging to the chapter or the staff of a cathedral or collegiate church
2

cañon

3 of 3

noun (3)

ca·​ñon

less common spelling of canyon

1
: a deep narrow valley with steep sides and often with a stream flowing through it
2
: something resembling a canyon
the city's concrete canyons

Did you know?

What is the difference between cannon and canon?

Cannon and canon are occasionally confused by writers, but the two words have independent origins, and do not share a meaning. Cannon is most frequently found used in the sense of "a large gun," and can be traced to the Old Italian word cannone, which means "large tube." Canon, however, comes from the Greek word kanōn, meaning "rule." Although canon has a variety of meanings, it is most often found in the senses of "a rule or law of a church," "an accepted rule," or "a sanctioned or accepted group or body of related works." A loose cannon is "a dangerously uncontrollable person or thing." There are no loose canons.

Choose the Right Synonym for canon

law, rule, regulation, precept, statute, ordinance, canon mean a principle governing action or procedure.

law implies imposition by a sovereign authority and the obligation of obedience on the part of all subject to that authority.

obey the law

rule applies to more restricted or specific situations.

the rules of the game

regulation implies prescription by authority in order to control an organization or system.

regulations affecting nuclear power plants

precept commonly suggests something advisory and not obligatory communicated typically through teaching.

the precepts of effective writing

statute implies a law enacted by a legislative body.

a statute requiring the use of seat belts

ordinance applies to an order governing some detail of procedure or conduct enforced by a limited authority such as a municipality.

a city ordinance

canon suggests in nonreligious use a principle or rule of behavior or procedure commonly accepted as a valid guide.

the canons of good taste

Examples of canon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Obviously, this video is not part of The Sopranos canon. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 16 Apr. 2024 Although later Godzilla movies would rehash its ecological ideas, the film stands out for its colorful animation, psychedelic theme song (complete with a surreal nightclub sequence where patrons’ heads turn into fish), and a monster that’s among the cruelest and most destructive in the canon. Katie Rife, EW.com, 28 Mar. 2024 The museum also collects works by artists who were historically left out of the canon and the market. Robin Pogrebin, New York Times, 27 Mar. 2024 That’s our medium to define the canon now, which is wild to think about. Brian Davids, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Mar. 2024 Meanwhile, its story, however deleted from the Star Wars canon, is genuinely interesting and involving. Matt Gardner, Forbes, 29 Feb. 2024 As the word implies, for some fans, canon is no less than holy writ. Adam B. Vary, Variety, 27 Mar. 2024 Flaming Moe's'' is a crucial addition to The Simpsons' liquor canon, with a Cheers parody that includes a sobering theme song (''Where liquor in a mug/Can warm you like a hug''). EW.com, 18 Mar. 2024 Marvel Studios recently proclaimed the former Netflix shows to be MCU canon. Brian Davids, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'canon.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

Middle English, from Old English, from Late Latin, from Latin, ruler, rule, model, standard, from Greek kanōn

Noun (2)

Middle English canoun, from Anglo-French *canoun, chanoun, from Late Latin canonicus one living under a rule, from Latin, according to rule, from Greek kanonikos, from kanōn

First Known Use

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (2)

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of canon was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near canon

Cite this Entry

“Canon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/canon. Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

canon

1 of 3 noun
can·​on ˈkan-ən How to pronounce canon (audio)
1
: a church law or decree
2
: an official list (as of the books of the Bible)
3
: an accepted standard or rule
canons of good taste

canon

2 of 3 noun
: a member of the clergy who is on the staff of a cathedral

cañon

3 of 3

variant of canyon

Legal Definition

canon

noun
can·​on ˈka-nən How to pronounce canon (audio)
1
a
: a regulation or doctrine decreed by a church council
b
: a provision of canon law
2
a
: an accepted principle or rule
canons of descent
b
: a body of principles, rules, standards, or norms
Etymology

Noun

Greek kanōn rod, measuring line, rule

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