1 [kan-uhn]
an ecclesiastical rule or law enacted by a council or other competent authority and, in the Roman Catholic Church, approved by the pope.
the body of ecclesiastical law.
the body of rules, principles, or standards accepted as axiomatic and universally binding in a field of study or art: the neoclassical canon.
a fundamental principle or general rule: the canons of good behavior.
a standard; criterion: the canons of taste.
the books of the Bible recognized by any Christian church as genuine and inspired.
any officially recognized set of sacred books.
any comprehensive list of books within a field.
the works of an author that have been accepted as authentic: There are 37 plays in the Shakespeare canon. Compare apocrypha ( def 3 ).
a catalog or list, as of the saints acknowledged by the Church.
Liturgy. the part of the Mass between the Sanctus and the Communion.
Eastern Church. a liturgical sequence sung at matins, usually consisting of nine odes arranged in a fixed pattern.
Music. consistent, note-for-note imitation of one melodic line by another, in which the second line starts after the first.
Printing. a 48-point type.

before 900; Middle English, Old English < Latin < Greek kanṓn measuring rod, rule, akin to kánna cane

canonlike, adjective

3, 4, 5. See principle. Unabridged


2 [kan-uhn]
one of a body of dignitaries or prebendaries attached to a cathedral or a collegiate church; a member of the chapter of a cathedral or a collegiate church.
Roman Catholic Church. one of the members (canons regular) of certain religious orders.

1150–1200; Middle English; back formation from Old English canōnic (one) under rule < Medieval Latin canōnicus, Latin: of or under rule < Greek kanōnikós. See canon1, -ic


noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To canon
World English Dictionary
canon1 (ˈkænən)
1.  Christianity a Church decree enacted to regulate morals or religious practices
2.  (often plural) a general rule or standard, as of judgment, morals, etc
3.  (often plural) a principle or accepted criterion applied in a branch of learning or art
4.  RC Church the complete list of the canonized saints
5.  RC Church the prayer in the Mass in which the Host is consecrated
6.  a list of writings, esp sacred writings, officially recognized as genuine
7.  round See also catch a piece of music in which an extended melody in one part is imitated successively in one or more other parts
8.  a list of the works of an author that are accepted as authentic
9.  (formerly) a size of printer's type equal to 48 point
[Old English, from Latin, from Greek kanōn rule, rod for measuring, standard; related to kanna reed, cane1]

canon2 (ˈkænən)
1.  one of several priests on the permanent staff of a cathedral, who are responsible for organizing services, maintaining the fabric, etc
2.  RC Church Also called: canon regular a member of either of two religious orders, the Augustinian or Premonstratensian Canons, living communally as monks but performing clerical duties
[C13: from Anglo-French canunie, from Late Latin canonicus one living under a rule, from canon1]

cañon (ˈkænjən)
a variant spelling of canyon

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

"church law," O.E., from L.L. canon, from L., "measuring line, rule," from Gk. kanon "rule," perhaps from kanna "reed" (see cane). Taken in ecclesiastical sense for "decree of the Church," and passed through L.L. to O.E.

"clergyman," c.1200, from Anglo-Fr. canun, from O.N.Fr. canonie, from L.L. canonicus "clergyman living under a rule," from L. canonicus (adj.) "according to rule," from Gk. kanonikos, from kanon (see canon (1)).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Bible Dictionary

Canon definition

This word is derived from a Hebrew and Greek word denoting a reed or cane. Hence it means something straight, or something to keep straight; and hence also a rule, or something ruled or measured. It came to be applied to the Scriptures, to denote that they contained the authoritative rule of faith and practice, the standard of doctrine and duty. A book is said to be of canonical authority when it has a right to take a place with the other books which contain a revelation of the Divine will. Such a right does not arise from any ecclesiastical authority, but from the evidence of the inspired authorship of the book. The canonical (i.e., the inspired) books of the Old and New Testaments, are a complete rule, and the only rule, of faith and practice. They contain the whole supernatural revelation of God to men. The New Testament Canon was formed gradually under divine guidance. The different books as they were written came into the possession of the Christian associations which began to be formed soon after the day of Pentecost; and thus slowly the canon increased till all the books were gathered together into one collection containing the whole of the twenty-seven New Testament inspired books. Historical evidence shows that from about the middle of the second century this New Testament collection was substantially such as we now possess. Each book contained in it is proved to have, on its own ground, a right to its place; and thus the whole is of divine authority. The Old Testament Canon is witnessed to by the New Testament writers. Their evidence is conclusive. The quotations in the New from the Old are very numerous, and the references are much more numerous. These quotations and references by our Lord and the apostles most clearly imply the existence at that time of a well-known and publicly acknowledged collection of Hebrew writings under the designation of "The Scriptures;" "The Law and the Prophets and the Psalms;" "Moses and the Prophets," etc. The appeals to these books, moreover, show that they were regarded as of divine authority, finally deciding all questions of which they treat; and that the whole collection so recognized consisted only of the thirty-nine books which we now posses. Thus they endorse as genuine and authentic the canon of the Jewish Scriptures. The Septuagint Version (q.v.) also contained every book we now have in the Old Testament Scriptures. As to the time at which the Old Testament canon was closed, there are many considerations which point to that of Ezra and Nehemiah, immediately after the return from Babylonian exile. (See BIBLE ØT0000580, EZRA ØT0001294, QUOTATIONS.)

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
Cite This Source
Example sentences
Occasionally, one of those songs sticks in the Christmas-music canon.
Students choose a piece of poetry from the literary canon and compare it with
  the lyrics of a favorite pop song.
In the ancient canon of the Roman mass, he is ranked among the martyrs.
Adding smoked salmon and scrambled eggs to matzo brei, a simple recipe from the
  Passover canon.
Images for canon
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature