from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun See cannon, 7.
  • noun A rule or law in general.
  • noun Eccles.: A law or rule of doctrine or discipline, enacted by a council or other competent ecclesiastical authority.
  • noun In liturgics, that part of the liturgy or mass which includes the consecration, great oblation, and great intercession.
  • noun The books of the Holy Scripture accepted by the Christian church as containing an authoritative rule of religious faith and practice.
  • noun The rules of a religious order, or of persons devoted to a strictly religious life, as monks and nuns; also, the book in which such rules art written.
  • noun A catalogue or list; specifically, the catalogue of members of the chapter of a cathedral or collegiate church.
  • noun A catalogue of saints acknowledged and canonized, as in the Roman Catholic and Eastern churches.
  • noun In art, a rule or system of measures of such a character that, the dimensions of one of the parts being given, those of the whole may be deduced, and vice versa.
  • noun In music, a kind of fugal composition in two or more parts, constructed according to the strict rules of imitation.
  • noun In mathematics: A general rule for the solution of cases of similar nature.
  • noun An extensible table or set of tables.
  • noun A collection of formulas.
  • noun In logic, a fundamental and invariable maxim, such as, Nothing ought to be done without a reason.
  • noun In the Kantian philosophy, the science which determines the right use of any faculty of cognition: as, pure logic is the canon of the formal use of the understanding and reason; transcendental analytics is the canon of the use of the understanding a priori, and so on.
  • noun In pharmacy, a rule for compounding medicines.
  • noun In (Gr. hymnology, a hymn consisting normally of a succession of nine odes, but usually of eight (sometimes of only three or four), the second being omitted, except in Lent, the numbers of the third, fourth, etc., however, remaining unaltered. See ode, tetraodion, triodion.
  • noun Annual charge for use of land; rent; a quit-rent.
  • noun In printing, a large text printing-type, in size about 17⅘ lines to the linear foot: so called from its early employment in printing the canon of the mass and the service-books of the church.
  • noun A canon whose subject returns into itself; an infinite or perpetual canon.
  • noun A canon whose subject ends in a key one semitone above that in which it began, so that twelve repetitions traverse the circle of keys.
  • noun A dignitary who possesses a prebend or revenue allotted for the performance of divine service in a cathedral or collegiate church; a member of the chapter of a cathedral or collegiate church.

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

  • noun A law or rule.
  • noun (Eccl.) A law, or rule of doctrine or discipline, enacted by a council and confirmed by the pope or the sovereign; a decision, regulation, code, or constitution made by ecclesiastical authority.
  • noun The collection of books received as genuine Holy Scriptures, called the sacred canon, or general rule of moral and religious duty, given by inspiration; the Bible; also, any one of the canonical Scriptures. See Canonical books, under Canonical, a.
  • noun In monasteries, a book containing the rules of a religious order.
  • noun A catalogue of saints acknowledged and canonized in the Roman Catholic Church.
  • noun A member of a cathedral chapter; a person who possesses a prebend in a cathedral or collegiate church.
  • noun (Mus.) A musical composition in which the voices begin one after another, at regular intervals, successively taking up the same subject. It either winds up with a coda (tailpiece), or, as each voice finishes, commences anew, thus forming a perpetual fugue or round. It is the strictest form of imitation. See Imitation.
  • noun (Print.) The largest size of type having a specific name; -- so called from having been used for printing the canons of the church.
  • noun The part of a bell by which it is suspended; -- called also ear and shank.
  • noun (Billiards) See Carom.
  • noun See under Apostolical.
  • noun See under Augustinian.
  • noun a resident member of a cathedral chapter (during a part or the whole of the year).
  • noun See under Law.
  • noun (R. C. Ch.) that part of the mass, following the Sanctus, which never changes.
  • noun a canon{6} who neither lived in a monastery, nor kept the canonical hours.
  • noun (Ch. of Eng.) one who has been admitted to a chapter, but has not yet received a prebend.
  • noun (R. C. Ch.) one who lived in a conventual community and followed the rule of St. Austin; a Black canon.
  • noun (R. C. Ch.) one who did not live in a monastery, but kept the hours.

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

  • noun A generally accepted principle.
  • noun A group of literary works that are generally accepted as representing a field.
  • noun The works of a writer that have been accepted as authentic.
  • noun A eucharistic prayer, particularly the Roman Canon.
  • noun A religious law or body of law decreed by the church.
  • noun A member of a cathedral chapter
  • noun A piece of music in which the same melody is played by different voices, but beginning at different times.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin canōn, from Ancient Greek κανών (kanón, "measuring rod, standard"), akin to κάννα (kanna, "reed"), perhaps from Semitic (compare Arabic قَانُون (Qānūn, "law") Hebrew קָנֶה (qane, "reed")). See also cane.


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  • Thanks to fandom, many more people know what it means nowadays.

    (Or at least I hope they do, rather than having some misguided notion. Fandom has warped far too many words, like "angst"...)

    October 31, 2007

  • I think it's approaching mainstream vocabulary, especially after the recent Dumbledore thing.

    October 31, 2007

  • I always thought it was part of mainstream vocabulary.

    Which shows you how much I know. ;-)

    October 31, 2007

  • " I consigned him to the minor canon of English enthusiasts for the avant-garde – in the end, not enthusiastic enough."

    Source: The times Literary supplement

    January 22, 2018