Definition of colony in English:



  • 1A country or area under the full or partial political control of another country, typically a distant one, and occupied by settlers from that country.

    • ‘They took, and kept, control of the colony - a truly astonishing achievement at the time.’
    • ‘The Seven Years War brought momentous British successes in the colonies and in Europe.’
    • ‘It controlled colonies from Spain to Turkey, from the Alps to the Sahara.’
    • ‘Spanish, English, and French troops were soon battling one another for control of the colony.’
    • ‘Let us consider the two countries that the United States did occupy as colonies in the 20th century, Haiti and the Philippines.’
    • ‘The attempt of the restored Spanish monarchy to regain control of her colonies by military force failed.’
    • ‘While Lisbon withdrew from Brazil in the mid-19th century, it continued to occupy its African colonies into the 1970s.’
    • ‘When the British took formal control of the colony, the Dutch populace, about 8,000 people, struggled to retain their cultural identity.’
    • ‘Without the navy they couldn't control their colonies, thus losing them to other world powers.’
    • ‘One of the poorest sixteen countries in the world, this former Portuguese colony has few natural resources to provide an acceptable living standard to its population.’
    • ‘To all intents and purposes, Britain has assumed de facto control of the government of its former colony.’
    • ‘After Portugal abandoned East Timor in 1975, Indonesia invaded and occupied the colony until rejected by the East Timorese voters in 1999.’
    • ‘It was also faced with the task of repatriating some three million homecoming troops, and another three million civilians from colonies and occupied territories to Japan.’
    • ‘Britain obtained German colonies and full command of the European seas.’
    • ‘Canberra used the conflict to seize control of German colonies, in particular German New Guinea, the Solomons and other islands.’
    • ‘In 1947 Britain lost control of India, the colony that British prime minister Disraeli had once called the ‘jewel in the crown of England’.’
    • ‘Korea was made a Japanese protectorate in 1905 and turned into a full colony of the growing Japanese empire in 1910.’
    • ‘After losing this conflict, France relinquished to England control of its colonies, through the Treaty of Paris.’
    • ‘Caesar, Augustus and their successors sought to ensure a steady supply of peasant soldiers for the legions by settling veterans in colonies outside Italy.’
    • ‘Imperial self-assertion required first of all that Italy seize full control of the colonies it already possessed.’
    • ‘The pace of political reform in the colony was sharply accelerated following a wave of disturbances precipitated by a rally of ex-soldiers in Accra in February 1948.’
    territory, possession, holding, dependency, province, dominion, protectorate, satellite, satellite state, settlement, outpost
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    1. 1.1 A group of people living in a colony, consisting of the original settlers and their descendants and successors.
      • ‘Ambitious space experts and political leaders planned lunar colonies, space stations and Mars expeditions.’
      • ‘German success in Europe in 1940 had orphaned French and Dutch colonies in the region and they became the focus of Japanese attention.’
      • ‘As the colony settled down and developed, Clendinnen says, newer generations on both sides may have supposed Aboriginal life was always as it became in the early nineteenth century.’
      • ‘Froude invites his readers on a luxurious journey through the clubs, gardens, terraces, and mansions of colonial outposts and white settler colonies.’
      • ‘The historical comparison with other colonies of settlement provides only partial insight into its history.’
      • ‘The accepted strategy of establishing colonies and controlling a lucrative trade to and from them never really worked for the Dutch in the Atlantic, at least not for long.’
      • ‘The German empire was formed by the land-based expansion of Prussia; colonies were primarily settlements within Europe.’
      • ‘The territories thus depopulated were then occupied by well organized colonies from Germany.’
    2. 1.2the colonies All the foreign countries or areas formerly under British political control.
      • ‘It was at this time that England was seeking to populate the colonies and Ireland's trouble gave them an opportunity to do so.’
      • ‘In the colonies, customs are even more difficult to define clearly.’
      • ‘But those who came to the colonies to better themselves wanted to show off their success in the old ways.’
      • ‘The stamp showed a world map with the colonies and islands of the British Empire highlighted in red.’
      • ‘In the 17th century the colonies were seen in Britain as receptacles for a surplus population.’
      • ‘This famous hotel dates back to 1891, when the British frequented it en route to the colonies, and it retains an air of the grandeur of those days.’
      • ‘And I don't think I need to spell out to you how easy it was for the British to transport that notion to the colonies.’
      • ‘Exile him to the colonies or the continent instead.’
      • ‘Little wonder that many women were reluctant to migrate to the colonies, just as some of their 19th century descendants resisted moving westward.’
      • ‘I'm beginning to forget what's so bad about British rule in the colonies.’
      • ‘They lack the moral grit that sent so much of the flower of Oxbridge out to the colonies during the heyday of the British Empire.’
      • ‘By the mid-century much of the trade between the colonies was being carried in foreign ships, and largely to the benefit of foreign merchants.’
      • ‘The collection includes many objects from the colonies that celebrate the greatness of the British Empire.’
      • ‘Yet scandal in the colonies was also enacted on the global stage of British imperialism.’
      • ‘In fact, according to Sharp, colonial organizations had largely taken over control from the British in most of the colonies before a shot was fired.’
      • ‘It was his angriest novel, an 844-page expose of the London society he returned to after a spell in the colonies.’
      • ‘A number of tables and graphs purport to show the great improvements which the British brought to the colonies.’
      • ‘This is the first modern study to look at drinking establishments in all the British mainland colonies instead of one city or colony.’
      • ‘After the second world war Britain trawled the colonies, mostly for workers to do low-paid jobs.’
      • ‘The British Iron Act of 1750 prohibited steel manufacture in the colonies.’
    3. 1.3the ColoniesBritish
      another term for Thirteen Colonies
      • ‘The loss of the colonies in America deprived the government of a major source of income, and his troops mutinied.’
      • ‘King George wanted to forcefully impose British mercantilism on the colonies.’
      • ‘Long before he advocated formal independence he was teaching both Americans and their imperial masters that the attempt to rule the colonies from Britain was a folly.’
      • ‘In the past generation a group of scholars has recast the history of the mainland colonies of British North America.’
      • ‘The practice persisted in the United States even after the colonies declared their independence.’
      • ‘The war petered out, and the colonies gained their collective independence.’
      • ‘After all, the English have harbored equally ambivalent feelings ever since the 13 colonies became a nation.’
      • ‘In 1787, delegates of the colonies adopted the United States Constitution.’
      • ‘By 1774, Virginia was taking the lead as the colonies began to organize and formulate a unified response to British rule.’
      • ‘When the first English colonists settled in America, the colonies looked pretty much like England, too.’
      • ‘At the outbreak of the fighting in North America it was widely expected that the colonies should be able to bear the brunt of it.’
      • ‘While one of the main priorities of the colonies in the Americas was profit, the importance of Ireland was more strategic.’
      • ‘The migration of religious sects to America made the colonies a natural breeding ground for religious freedom, but only up to a point.’
      • ‘The event, known as the Boston Tea Party, led to a series of British punitive measures which propelled the colonies towards war.’
      • ‘While most of the captives were eventually ransomed, the raid stood as a clear reminder to all the colonies and to Britain as well of how dangerous was frontier life.’
      • ‘There was a single vision that united those who transformed thirteen British colonies into the United States of America.’
      • ‘The goal in this is not to kill the people of South Carolina - after this war is over and Britain victorious, we must continue commerce with the colonies.’
      • ‘In the colonies American newspapers merged some of these terms with a careful classification of both racial differences and racial mixing.’
      • ‘The issue of military service as a requirement rather than an option has been around since the colonies were fighting for their independence from Great Britain.’
      • ‘He then fought with the British against the colonies in the American Revolution, catching the eye of General George Washington.’
      • ‘This occurred when practicing Anglicans were left behind in America as the British vacated the colonies, taking their priests with them.’
      • ‘Paine's articles during this period were often critical of British policy towards the colonies, but he did not yet advocate independence.’
      • ‘Beagles arrived in the United States before the colonies had become united.’
  • 2A group of people of one nationality or ethnic group living in a foreign city or country.

    ‘the British colony in New York’
    • ‘The first and largest Irish colony in London could be found in St Giles in the Fields.’
    • ‘He mobilized the elite of the American colony in Paris into a volunteer committee, whose first task was to help stranded tourists obtain money.’
    • ‘There was an important Italian colony in London, mostly of Florentines and Lucchese, dealing in silk and silk fabrics.’
    population, community
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    1. 2.1 A place where a group of people with similar interests live together.
      ‘an artists' colony’
      • ‘It is all that remains of the leper colony which once occupied the site.’
      • ‘Soon, a whole host of artists began to settle in the tiny fishing port of Newlyn, forming the renowned artists' colony known as the 'Newlyn School'.’
      • ‘In its first phase it was no more than a trading station, which most likely provided the base for a colony of foreign merchants.’
      • ‘During the first quarter of the twentieth century, Old Lyme was the center of a leading Impressionist art colony.’
      • ‘Life would be so much easier if we lived in a nudist colony, where the way we really looked meant more to others than the clothes we wore.’
      • ‘Using seldom-seen works and newly-uncovered information, Kurtz Lansing vividly captures the flavor of Old Lyme in the early years of the 20th century, when the house was the center of a vibrant artist colony.’
      community, association, commune, settlement, quarter, district, section, ghetto
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  • 3Biology
    A community of animals or plants of one kind living close together or forming a physically connected structure.

    ‘a colony of seals’
    • ‘The colony's previous population of some 4,000 iguanas had plunged to about 1,500.’
    • ‘Mountain beavers live in small colonies, occupying areas with plentiful green vegetation and cover.’
    • ‘The queen bee eats the workers' eggs to retain her control over the colony.’
    • ‘One of his biggest successes has been helping to establish a new colony of flamingoes at Auckland Zoo.’
    • ‘The agency has now submitted new evidence from other European countries which have successfully set up beaver colonies.’
    • ‘As time passes, more trees grow in the areas cleared by the ants, and the ant colony expands to occupy them.’
    • ‘Although not often perceived as an endangered plant, juniper colonies right across Britain are in massive decline.’
    • ‘About 11 colonies of the plant are found in two locations in the northern area of the city of Scotts Valley, along with other locally rare plant species.’
    • ‘All you have to do is dive near any large seal colony and let the animals' natural curiosity and playfulness do the rest.’
    • ‘On their breeding grounds, they nest close to penguin colonies where they feed on the eggs and the young.’
    • ‘The island holds an important breeding population of grey seals and is also of ornithological interest for its colonies of breeding sea birds.’
    • ‘Thought to be extinct, a last colony of 18 animals was discovered in Wyoming in 1981, and now there are some 1,600 in the West.’
    • ‘Gradually, these grounded bats formed a captive colony that occupied a room in French's house for more than eight years.’
    • ‘More specifically, there is a whole colony of mice living under the floorboards in my bedroom.’
    • ‘Prairie dog support groups are trying to relocate whole colonies of the animals to get them away from hunters and out of the path of development, but it's a slow process.’
    • ‘Nests are located on the open ground, in small colonies, typically close to the water.’
    • ‘Human beings suffered terribly, as did songbird populations, old-growth forests, fur seal colonies, and fragile watersheds.’
    1. 3.1 A group of fungi or bacteria grown from a single spore or cell on a culture medium.
      • ‘They can culture and maintain colonies of the stem cells.’
      • ‘These colonies were grown overnight in liquid culture before DNA was prepared.’
      • ‘Antibiotic resistant strains develop when successive colonies of a bacterium grow in a medium where small amounts of antibiotic are evident.’
      • ‘Our models cover the process of forming a colony from a single cell.’
      • ‘The cells from random spore colonies were examined microscopically.’
      • ‘We tested this by restreaking cells from colonies grown for 15-96 hours.’
      • ‘By growing a human stem cell colony from a single cell, researchers are one step closer to deriving a homogenous population of cells of a particular type.’


Late Middle English (denoting a settlement formed mainly of retired soldiers, acting as a garrison in newly conquered territory in the Roman Empire): from Latin colonia ‘settlement, farm’, from colonus ‘settler, farmer’, from colere ‘cultivate’.