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[kuh-non-i-kuh l] /kəˈnɒn ɪ kəl/
adjective, Also, canonic
pertaining to, established by, or conforming to a canon or canons.
included in the canon of the Bible.
authorized; recognized; accepted:
canonical works.
Mathematics. (of an equation, coordinate, etc.) in simplest or standard form.
following the pattern of a musical canon.
Linguistics. (of a form or pattern) characteristic, general or basic:
the canonical form of the past tense; a canonical syllable pattern.
canonicals, garments prescribed by canon law for clergy when officiating.
Origin of canonical
1150-1200; Middle English (< Anglo-French) < Medieval Latin canōnicālis, equivalent to canōnic(us) (see canon2) + -ālis -al1
Related forms
canonically, adverb
supercanonical, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for canonicals
Historical Examples
  • Hogarth quarrelled with Churchill, and drew him as a bear in canonicals.

  • But when you are out of your canonicals, the case is altered.

    Red Gauntlet Sir Walter Scott
  • The reverend Duche appeared in his canonicals attended by his clerk.

  • Soldiers clear a path for Lars Pedersson, who appears in canonicals.

    Master Olof August Strindberg
  • The same story is told of Swift and four clergymen dressed in canonicals.

    Library Notes A. P. Russell
  • With them their wives and children had been shown, all greatly impressed by the canonicals.

    Soul of a Bishop H. G. Wells
  • The bishop, in his canonicals, is waiting; the groom and his groomsmen are expectant.

    For Woman's Love

    Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth
  • "No, I think not," replied Mr. Priddon, who was already in his canonicals.

    Elster's Folly Mrs. Henry Wood
  • Then with a courteous shake of the hand, stately as though he were a bishop in canonicals, Arnold Jackson took leave of his guest.

    The Trembling of a Leaf William Somerset Maugham
  • It was often observed of Dr. Routh that he never appeared on any occasion without his canonicals, which he wore constantly.

    Story of My Life, volumes 1-3 Augustus J. C. Hare
British Dictionary definitions for canonicals


plural noun
the vestments worn by clergy when officiating


belonging to or included in a canon of sacred or other officially recognized writings
belonging to or in conformity with canon law
according to recognized law; accepted
(music) in the form of a canon
of or relating to a cathedral chapter
of or relating to a canon (clergyman)
Derived Forms
canonically, adverb
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 canonicals



early 15c., from Medieval Latin canonicalis, from Late Latin canonicus "according to rule," in Church Latin, "pertaining to the canon" (see canon (n.2)). Earlier was canonial (early 13c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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