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can·​vas ˈkan-vəs How to pronounce canvas (audio)
variants or less commonly canvass
plural canvases also canvasses
: a firm closely woven cloth usually of linen, hemp, or cotton used for clothing and formerly much used for tents and sails
: a piece of cloth backed or framed as a surface for a painting
an artist's canvas
also : the painting on such a surface
: 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
: the background, setting, or scope of a historical or fictional account or narrative
the crowded canvas of history
: a piece of canvas used for a particular purpose
a hammock made of canvas
: tent
also : a group of tents
: a set of sails : sail
sailing under full canvas
: a stiff material (as of coarse cloth or plastic) that has regular meshes for working with a needle (as in needlepoint)
: the canvas-covered floor of a boxing or wrestling ring
canvaslike adjective


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canvased or canvassed; canvasing or canvassing

transitive verb

: to cover, line, or furnish with canvas

Example Sentences

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
The bags are made of canvas or rubber and secured with a seal or lock, Patrick said. Ana Faguy, USA TODAY, 24 Nov. 2022 In framing the galvanizing story, Chukwu paints on a canvas using a humanizing lens as her brush, each scene a window into Mamie’s perspective. Daron James, Los Angeles Times, 23 Nov. 2022 Watching millions of lights sparkle against the night sky's dark canvas is a long-beloved Indianapolis tradition. The Indianapolis Star, 18 Nov. 2022 Planning the menu for the big Thanksgiving day requires its own juggling act, but nothing will create more bravado than an elegant canvas for the standout dinner display. Bebe Howorth, ELLE Decor, 16 Nov. 2022 No Given the wallet-friendly price point, our tester said this artificial tree offers an excellent overall value for someone who wants a true blank canvas to work with. Brigitt Earley, Peoplemag, 14 Nov. 2022 Efforts to broaden craft beer’s canvas have brought unexpected benefits. Peter Rowe, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 Nov. 2022 In the video, Gotye can be seen with Kimbra appearing naked while standing in front of a canvas that gets colored with different shades. Sierra Porter, Billboard, 10 Nov. 2022 The French-oak flooring flows majestically throughout the space, providing a perfect canvas for the entire penthouse. Brenda Richardson, Forbes, 10 Nov. 2022
One way to combat that is to canvas your neighborhood ahead of an election or make monetary donations to politicians your support. Heather Mayer Irvine, Men's Health, 21 Nov. 2022 Both sides are pouring money into advertising, holding rallies, concerts, and roundtables, and dispatching thousands of volunteers to canvas every corner of the state ahead of the midterm elections on Nov. 8. Time, 24 Oct. 2022 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 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.

Word History


Noun and Verb

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

First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1556, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near canvas

Cite this Entry

“Canvas.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



: a strong cloth of hemp, flax, or cotton used for clothing and formerly much used for tents and sails
: a piece of cloth used as a surface for painting
also : a painting on such a surface
: something made of canvas
: a stiff material (as of coarse cloth or plastic) that has regular meshes for working with a needle (as in needlepoint)

More from Merriam-Webster on canvas

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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