noun, plural ca·nar·ies.


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

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for canary

Contemporary Examples of canary

Historical Examples of canary

  • In the middle is a long in-drawn note, much like one of the canary's.

    Birds in the Bush

    Bradford Torrey

  • Still, the manager himself hadn't really cared about the Twinklers since the canary came.

    Christopher and Columbus

    Countess Elizabeth Von Arnim

  • There is also every probability that the Canary islands and Madeira were entirely in their possession.

    A Manual of Ancient History

    A. H. L. (Arnold Hermann Ludwig) Heeren

  • From one subject he leaps to another like a canary hopping on the sticks of his cage; but there is method in his madness.

    A Top-Floor Idyl

    George van Schaick

  • He had plenty of ale and cider, with which the Cavaliers were perfectly content, but only a single runlet of canary.

    Boscobel: or, the royal oak

    William Harrison Ainsworth

British Dictionary definitions for canary


noun plural -naries

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
Australian history a convict
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


pl n

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

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


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.