canary

[kuh-nair-ee]
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noun, plural ca·nar·ies.
  1. any of several Old World finches of the genus Serinus, especially S. canaria (common canary), native to the Canary Islands and often kept as a pet, in the wild being greenish with brown streaks above and yellow below and in domesticated varieties usually bright yellow or pale yellow.
  2. Also called canary yellow. a light, clear yellow color.
  3. Slang. informer(def 1).
  4. Slang. a female singer, especially with a dance band.
  5. a sweet white wine of the Canary Islands, resembling sherry.
  6. a yellow diamond.
adjective
  1. having the color canary.

Origin of canary

1585–95; < Spanish (Isla) Canaria < Latin Canāria (insula) Dog (Island), equivalent to can(is) dog + -āria, feminine of -ārius -ary

Canary Islands

plural noun
  1. a group of mountainous islands in the Atlantic Ocean, near the NW coast of Africa, comprising two provinces of Spain. 2894 sq. mi. (7495 sq. km).
Also called Ca·nar·ies.
Related formsCa·nar·i·an, adjective, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


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British Dictionary definitions for canary

canary

noun plural -naries
  1. a small finch, Serinus canaria, of the Canary Islands and Azores: a popular cagebird noted for its singing. Wild canaries are streaked yellow and brown, but most domestic breeds are pure yellow
  2. See canary yellow
  3. Australian history a convict
  4. archaic a sweet wine from the Canary Islands similar to Madeira

Word Origin for canary

C16: from Old Spanish canario of or from the Canary Islands

Canary Islands

Canaries

pl n
  1. a group of mountainous islands in the Atlantic off the NW coast of Africa, forming an Autonomous Community of Spain. Pop: 1 944 700 (2003 est)
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 canary
n.

type of small songbird, 1650s (short for Canary-bird, 1570s), from French canarie, from Spanish canario "canary bird," literally "of the Canary Islands," from Latin Insula Canaria "Canary Island," largest of the Fortunate Isles, literally "island of dogs" (canis, genitive canarius; see canine (n.)), so called because large dogs lived there. The name was extended to the whole island group (Canariæ Insulæ) by the time of Arnobius (c.300). As a type of wine (from the Canary Islands) from 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with canary

canary

see look like the cat that ate the canary.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.