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[kol-uh-nee] /ˈkɒl ə ni/
noun, plural colonies.
a group of people who leave their native country to form in a new land a settlement subject to, or connected with, the parent nation.
the country or district settled or colonized:
Many Western nations are former European colonies.
any people or territory separated from but subject to a ruling power.
the Colonies, those British colonies that formed the original 13 states of the United States: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
a number of people coming from the same country, or speaking the same language, residing in a foreign country or city, or a particular section of it; enclave:
the Polish colony in Israel; the American colony in Paris.
any group of individuals having similar interests, occupations, etc., usually living in a particular locality; community:
a colony of artists.
the district, quarter, or dwellings inhabited by any such number or group:
The Greek island is now an artists' colony.
an aggregation of bacteria growing together as the descendants of a single cell.
Ecology. a group of organisms of the same kind living or growing in close association.
Origin of colony
1350-1400; Middle English colonie (< Middle French) < Latin colōnia, equivalent to colōn(us) colonus + -ia -y3
Related forms
semicolony, noun, plural semicolonies.
subcolony, noun, plural subcolonies.
6. body, band. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for colonies
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And to that old French province the Englishman of the colonies must go to find his country!

    Old News Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The fate of their colonies will be fought in Europe, not here.

    The Leopard Woman Stewart Edward White
  • As for furs and leather and lumber, no other town in the colonies compared with Albany.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • And when the men were not wanted for India, they were shipped off to the planters in the American colonies.

    Self-Help Samuel Smiles
  • He laboured to ameliorate the condition of the native Indians in the American colonies.

    Self-Help Samuel Smiles
British Dictionary definitions for colonies


plural noun the Colonies
(Brit) the subject territories formerly in the British Empire
(US, history) the 13 states forming the original United States of America when they declared their independence (1776). These were Connecticut, North and South Carolina, Delaware, Georgia, New Hampshire, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and New Jersey


noun (pl) -nies
a body of people who settle in a country distant from their homeland but maintain ties with it
the community formed by such settlers
a subject territory occupied by a settlement from the ruling state
  1. a community of people who form a national, racial, or cultural minority: an artists' colony, the American colony in London
  2. the area itself
  1. a group of the same type of animal or plant living or growing together, esp in large numbers
  2. an interconnected group of polyps of a colonial organism
(bacteriol) a group of bacteria, fungi, etc, derived from one or a few spores, esp when grown on a culture medium
Word Origin
C16: from Latin colōnia, from colere to cultivate, inhabit
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 colonies



late 14c., "ancient Roman settlement outside Italy," from Latin colonia "settled land, farm, landed estate," from colonus "husbandman, tenant farmer, settler in new land," from colere "to inhabit, cultivate, frequent, practice, tend, guard, respect," from PIE root *kwel- "move around" (source of Latin -cola "inhabitant;" see cycle (n.)). Also used by the Romans to translate Greek apoikia "people from home." Modern application dates from 1540s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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colonies in Medicine

colony col·o·ny (kŏl'ə-nē)
A discrete group of organisms, such as a group of cells growing on a solid nutrient surface.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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colonies in Science
A group of the same kind of animals, plants, or one-celled organisms living or growing together. Organisms live in colonies for their mutual benefit, and especially their protection. Multicellular organisms may have evolved out of colonies of unicellular organisms.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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