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[kuh-neyl; French ka-nah-yuh] /kəˈneɪl; French kaˈnɑ yə/
riffraff; rabble.
Origin of canaille
1670-80; < French < Italian canaglia pack of dogs, equivalent to can(e) dog (< Latin canis) + -aglia collective suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for canaille
Historical Examples
  • My proclivities are entirely aristocratic: I have no power of assimilation with the canaille.

    Henry Dunbar M. E. Braddon
  • Is your business concerned with this infernal insubordination of the canaille?

    Scaramouche Rafael Sabatini
  • I tried to invest her with all the "traits" of that "canaille" multitude I hated.

    Gerald Fitzgerald Charles James Lever
  • I have broken with 'the gentlemen' to cast my lot with the canaille.

  • I learned as many of the canaille watchwords by heart as I could.

  • "If you can keep the canaille of that opinion," said Augustine.

    Uncle Tom's Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • I love to drive through the streets and see how the canaille scowl at me from every corner.

    Vera Oscar Wilde
  • To get at my facts I have to go into the most depraved quarters, and associate with the canaille.

    A Black Adonis

    Linn Boyd Porter
  • Now let us return to the watch-tower, and try to make out what the canaille are about.

    Paddy Finn W. H. G. Kingston
  • None of your raileries, Tarleton, or I shall speak to you of plebeians and the canaille!

    Devereux, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
British Dictionary definitions for canaille


the masses; mob; rabble
Word Origin
C17: from French, from Italian canaglia pack of dogs
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for canaille

"rabble," from French canaille (16c.), from Italian canaglia, literally "a pack of dogs," from cane "dog" (see canine).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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