Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The common people; the masses.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The lowest orders of the people collectively; the rabble; the vulgar.
  • noun Originally, a mixture of the coarser particles of flour and fine bran or shorts for feed; now occasionally used for the grade known as “fine feed” or “finished middlings.” Also spelled canail, canal, and canell.
  • noun A pack (as of hounds): as, the whole canaille of miscreants; a canaille (or canaglia) of poltroons.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The lowest class of people; the rabble; the vulgar.
  • noun Canadian Shorts or inferior flour.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The lowest class of people; the rabble; the vulgar.
  • noun Canada Shorts or inferior flour.

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French, from Italian canaglia, pack of dogs, rabble, from cane, dog, from Latin canis; see kwon- in Indo-European roots.]

Examples

  • The emperor has written the word canaille—“vile creature”—in the margin here.

    THE DIAMOND

  • The emperor has written the word canaille—“vile creature”—in the margin here.

    THE DIAMOND

  • The emperor has written the word canaille—“vile creature”—in the margin here.

    THE DIAMOND

  • As for our ministry and the intendants of the provinces, the financiers and what may be called the canaille, they felt all the extent of their loss.

    Court Memoirs of France Series — Complete

  • The Count caught the popular contagion, and after exchanging tears and kisses with patriots whom a week before he had called canaille, he swore eternal fidelity to the

    The Parisians — Complete

  • As for our ministry and the intendants of the provinces, the financiers and what may be called the canaille, they felt all the extent of their loss.

    Memoirs of Louis XIV and His Court and of the Regency — Complete

  • As for our ministry and the intendants of the provinces, the financiers and what may be called the canaille, they felt all the extent of their loss.

    Memoirs of Louis XIV and His Court and of the Regency — Volume 11

  • The army of the Allies, the enemy's position, the public feeling of Paris, and the hope of sharing in the honours of an engagement which was to sweep the revolutionary "canaille" before the

    Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine — Volume 55, No. 339, January, 1844

  • The spirit of Agrarianism reduced the nobility and gentry of France to a social level with the miserable "sans-culottes" of Paris, and the vile "canaille" which seems to raise itself from the midst of civil disturbances with the same ease and as naturally, as all the living engines of corruption burst into activity on the decay of the human body.

    N. Carolina University Magazine

  • They pick up its light weapons on the battle-field on which their fathers perished, and re-feather against the 'canaille' the shafts which had been pointed against the 'noblesse.'

    The Parisians — Volume 01

Comments

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  • a pack of dogs

    June 22, 2007

  • Riffraff; proletarian; the mob; rabble. (from Phrontistery)

    May 24, 2008

  • This term has fallen out of use in the past century and even in its heyday it appears to have required some explanation. On April 23, 1899, the Galveston Daily News ran a story about conditions in Hawaii, “The Wild Effort to Hooleyize Us.�? It described the missionaries’ sons as “a very ill-bred canille�? and felt compelled to add “rabble�? in parenthesis, just in case you didn’t know the meaning of the word.

    July 27, 2009