• synonyms


[kuh-neyl; French ka-nah-yuh]
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  1. riffraff; rabble.
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Origin of canaille

1670–80; < French < Italian canaglia pack of dogs, equivalent to can(e) dog (< Latin canis) + -aglia collective suffix
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for canaille

masses, rabble, riffraff, unwashed

Examples from the Web for canaille

Historical Examples of canaille

  • 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?


    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.

British Dictionary definitions for canaille


  1. the masses; mob; rabble
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Word Origin for canaille

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

Word Origin and History for canaille


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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper