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canary

[kuh-nair-ee] /kəˈnɛər i/
noun, plural canaries.
1.
any of several Old World finches of the genus Serinus, especially S. canaria (common canary) native to the Canary Islands and often kept as a pet, in the wild being greenish with brown streaks above and yellow below and in domesticated varieties usually bright yellow or pale yellow.
2.
Also called canary yellow. a light, clear yellow color.
3.
Slang. informer (def 1).
4.
Slang. a female singer, especially with a dance band.
5.
a sweet white wine of the Canary Islands, resembling sherry.
6.
a yellow diamond.
adjective
7.
having the color canary.
Origin
1585-1595
1585-95; < Spanish (Isla) Canaria < Latin Canāria (insula) Dog (Island), equivalent to can(is) dog + -āria, feminine of -ārius -ary
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for canaries

Canary Islands

plural noun
1.
a group of mountainous islands in the Atlantic off the NW coast of Africa, forming an Autonomous Community of Spain. Pop: 1 944 700 (2003 est)

canary

/kəˈnɛərɪ/
noun (pl) -naries
1.
a small finch, Serinus canaria, of the Canary Islands and Azores: a popular cagebird noted for its singing. Wild canaries are streaked yellow and brown, but most domestic breeds are pure yellow
2.
3.
(Austral, history) a convict
4.
(archaic) a sweet wine from the Canary Islands similar to Madeira
Word Origin
C16: from Old Spanish canario of or from the Canary Islands
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for canaries

canary

n.

type of small songbird, 1650s (short for Canary-bird, 1570s), from French canarie, from Spanish canario "canary bird," literally "of the Canary Islands," from Latin Insula Canaria "Canary Island," largest of the Fortunate Isles, literally "island of dogs" (canis, genitive canarius; see canine (n.)), so called because large dogs lived there. The name was extended to the whole island group (Canariæ Insulæ) by the time of Arnobius (c.300). As a type of wine (from the Canary Islands) from 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for canaries

canary

noun
  1. A girl or woman; chick (1880s+)
  2. A woman singer, esp of popular music (1919+)
  3. An informer; stool pigeon •Because a canary sings (1920s+ Underworld)
verb

: She used to canary with Stan Kenton

Related Terms

mountain canary


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with canaries
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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10
12
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