Definition of canal in English:



  • 1An artificial waterway constructed to allow the passage of boats or ships inland or to convey water for irrigation.

    ‘they travelled on by canal’
    ‘the Oxford Canal’
    • ‘Keeping enough water in the canal to guarantee ships passage has become a problem.’
    • ‘Many canals, inland waterways and towpaths were open for walkers and other visitors while many English Heritage and National Trust sites were open across the region.’
    • ‘The surrounding countryside is flat and almost treeless, but there is some greenery thanks to the complex of irrigation canals that feed water from the Euphrates River and other waterways.’
    • ‘The plan is that one day the Wilts and Berks canal will allow boats to cruise what is known as the Wessex Waterway Network.’
    • ‘Engineers from British Waterways, which manages canals across the country, are carrying out an extensive study on the possible re-opening of the waterway which shut in 1922.’
    • ‘Special handcrafted gold mementos have been awarded to 15 businesses based on the banks of Manchester's city centre canals and waterways to thank them for doing their bit to clean up the city for the Games.’
    • ‘Like Venice, Stockholm is built on the water with canals and waterways criss crossing the city.’
    • ‘Throughout history communities along the rivers, canals and waterways of the kingdom have depended on boats for fishing and transporting goods.’
    • ‘On lakes and rivers, canals and waterways, tiny lotus-shaped boats are set afloat with candles, incense sticks and flowers to honour and entertain the water spirits.’
    • ‘A couple of days later we headed south via boat along the inland canals of the Keralan backwaters.’
    • ‘It's a nice thought, but at the end of the day it is still a canal to nowhere, unlike worthy restoration schemes like re-opening of the Kennet and Avon canal which links various other canals into the national waterways grid.’
    • ‘Developers have constructed artificial canals to give as many people as possible a slice of the waterfront.’
    • ‘He said after the excessive rain, villagers were forced to make a breach in the canal to allow flood waters to flow.’
    • ‘Farm children often play near recently sprayed fields and sometimes swim in irrigation canals filled with water contaminated with pesticides.’
    • ‘Water flows into the depressions, fish move into the relatively deeper water, the canals are blocked off and the fish allowed to grow.’
    • ‘A man who cruised Britain's canals in the narrow boat he built himself, has died unexpectedly at the age of 77.’
    • ‘When payment is involved, the consensus was that it should be for irrigation, canals, pumps, and other infrastructure, not for water per se.’
    • ‘Currently, more than 85 per cent of water from canals, tanks and wells and tube-wells is used for irrigation.’
    • ‘He also constructed many canals and waterways including the Ulster Canal and the Queens Island on which the Harland and Wolfe shipyard was later built.’
    • ‘In Holland, we rented a boat and went cruising through the northern part of the country, which is all interconnected by canals and inland waterways and lakes.’
    inland waterway, channel, watercourse, waterway
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  • 2A tubular duct in a plant or animal, serving to convey or contain food, liquid, or air.

    ‘the ear canal’
    • ‘The true origin of the glandular neoplasms of the external ear canal is controversial.’
    • ‘Unusual muscle fibers may be found in the facial canal along with the facial nerve.’
    • ‘Between the vestibular and tympanic canals lies the cochlear duct.’
    • ‘Normal wax builds up in the outer part of the ear canal, not near the eardrum.’
    • ‘The surgeon seats a femoral bone plug into the medullary canal to provide an end-stop for the cement.’
    • ‘Electronic ear thermometers aren't recommended for infants younger than 3 months because their ear canals are usually too small.’
    • ‘In older people, the most common cause is degeneration in the semi-circular canals of the inner ear.’
    • ‘After they've done their job moistening the eyes, the tears flow into canals in the eyelids, which drain into the lacrimal sac, a pouch in the lower inner corner of each eye socket.’
    • ‘Each cord maintains its connection with the abdominal cavity via the canal, whence the vas joins the urinary tract below the bladder.’
    • ‘Swelling of the ear canal may make your child complain of a full or uncomfortable feeling in the ear.’
    • ‘Generally, the front, incisor and canine teeth have one canal, premolars have two canals and the back molar teeth have three.’
    • ‘Skin folds, areas underneath fingernails, ear canals, and other portions of the body that may trap chemicals should be inspected and cleaned carefully.’
    • ‘In cases of absence of the internal carotid artery, the carotid canal may also be absent.’
    • ‘These waves are channeled through the ear canal to hit the eardrum, causing vibrations.’
    • ‘Scientists say that all animals orientate their inner ear canals in a similar way when they are alert.’
    • ‘Insects cut veins in plants with arborescent resin canals or in plants with laticiferous ducts that do not reticulate.’
    • ‘In this test, a probe is gently put into the ear canal.’
    • ‘This canal is the top canal of the inner ear so it is actually right under the brain.’
    • ‘The scan shows a mild focal dilatation of the central canal of the spinal cord over two vertebral levels in the mid-dorsal region.’
    • ‘Under direct vision the excessive hair follicles of the external ear canal and pinna were targeted by the laser beam.’
    duct, tube, passage, vessel
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  • 3Astronomy
    Any of a number of linear markings formerly reported as seen by telescope on the planet Mars.

    • ‘Lowell was soon drawing Mars crisscrossed with a vast canal system.’
    • ‘The time before that, Giovanni Schiaparelli saw a series of dark markings on the planet's surface that some interpreted as canals built by an ancient civilization.’
    • ‘This controversy continued until the 1960s when spacecraft exploration of the planet showed no evidence of the canals.’
    • ‘Percival Lowell was convinced that these lines were canals, built by a race of intelligent Martians.’
    • ‘A century ago, the astronomer Percival Lowell described water-filled canals on Mars for the same reason.’


Late Middle English: from Old French, alteration of chanel ‘channel’, from Latin canalis ‘pipe, groove, channel’, from canna ‘cane’.