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

  • noun A heavy, coarse, closely woven fabric of cotton, hemp, or flax, traditionally used for tents and sails.
  • noun A piece of such fabric on which a painting, especially an oil painting, is executed.
  • noun A painting executed on such fabric.
  • noun A fabric of coarse open weave, used as a foundation for needlework.
  • noun The background against which events unfold, as in a historical narrative.
  • noun Nautical A sail or set of sails.
  • noun A tent or group of tents.
  • noun A circus tent.
  • noun Sports The floor of a ring in which boxing or wrestling takes place.
  • idiom Nautical (under canvas) With sails spread.
  • idiom (under canvas) In a tent or tents.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To provide or cover with canvas.
  • To toss as in canvas; shake; take to task.
  • To sift; examine; discuss: in this sense now usually spelled canvass (which see).
  • noun pl. canvases, sometimes canvasses. A closely woven, dense, heavy cloth of hemp or flax, used for any purpose for which strength and durability are required.
  • noun A fabric woven in small square meshes, used for working tapestry or embroidery with the needle.
  • noun Nautical, cloth in sails, or sails in general: as, to spread as much canvas as the ship will bear.
  • Made of canvas.
  • noun In cricket, a sheet of white canvas stretched on the boundary as a background behind the bowler, to aid the batsman in seeing the ball.
  • noun A painting executed on canvas.
  • noun Words written to an air without reference to the sense, simply to indicate to the poet or song-writer the measure of the verses he is to supply.

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

  • noun A strong cloth made of hemp, flax, or cotton; -- used for tents, sails, etc.
  • noun A coarse cloth so woven as to form regular meshes for working with the needle, as in tapestry, or worsted work.
  • noun A piece of strong cloth of which the surface has been prepared to receive painting, commonly painting in oil.
  • noun Something for which canvas is used: (a) A sail, or a collection of sails. (b) A tent, or a collection of tents. (c) A painting, or a picture on canvas.
  • noun A rough draft or model of a song, air, or other literary or musical composition; esp. one to show a poet the measure of the verses he is to make.
  • adjective Made of, pertaining to, or resembling, canvas or coarse cloth.

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

  • noun A type of coarse cloth, woven from hemp, useful for making sails and tents or as a surface for paintings.
  • noun A piece of canvas cloth stretched across a frame on which one may paint.
  • noun A basis for creative work.
  • noun computer graphics A region on which graphics can be rendered.
  • noun nautical sails in general
  • noun A tent.
  • noun Alternative spelling of canvass.
  • verb To cover an area or object with canvas.
  • verb Alternative spelling of canvass.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb consider in detail and subject to an analysis in order to discover essential features or meaning
  • noun the mat that forms the floor of the ring in which boxers or professional wrestlers compete
  • verb cover with canvas
  • noun the setting for a narrative or fictional or dramatic account
  • verb get the opinions (of people) by asking specific questions
  • noun a large piece of fabric (usually canvas fabric) by means of which wind is used to propel a sailing vessel
  • noun a tent made of canvas fabric
  • noun an oil painting on canvas fabric
  • verb solicit votes from potential voters in an electoral campaign
  • noun a heavy, closely woven fabric (used for clothing or chairs or sails or tents)


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

[Middle English canevas, from Old French and from Medieval Latin canavāsium, both ultimately from Latin cannabis, hemp; see cannabis.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Anglo-Norman, from Old Northern French canevas (compare Old French chanevas, chenevas) from a root ultimately derived from Latin cannabis, possibly a Vulgar Latin *cannabāceus or *cannapāceus. Cf. French canevas, resulting from a blend of the Old French and a Picard dialect word, itself from Old Northern French.


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  • JM read that police have started to canvas the area after six campers went missing.

    June 15, 2011