One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1An Old World finch native to the Canary Islands, the Azores, and Madeira, widely popular as a cage and aviary bird for its melodious song, Serinus canaria (family Fringillidae).
2Slang (originally cant). A prisoner; (also) †a habitual offender, a criminal, a rogue (obsolete). Compare "canary", "jail-bird". Now rare.
3Specifically Australian slang. A transported convict; = "canary". Now historical.
4The canary creeper, Tropaeolum peregrinum. Usually more fully as "canary bird flower", "canary bird plant", "canary bird vine".
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in William Turner (d. 1568), naturalist and religious controversialist. From the name of the Canary Islands + bird.
canary bird/kəˈnɛːri bəːd/
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