• synonyms


  1. any of various slender, open boats, tapering to a point at both ends, propelled by paddles or sometimes sails and traditionally formed of light framework covered with bark, skins, or canvas, or formed from a dug-out or burned-out log or logs, and now usually made of aluminum, fiberglass, etc.
  2. any of various small, primitive light boats.
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verb (used without object), ca·noed, ca·noe·ing.
  1. to paddle a canoe.
  2. to go in a canoe.
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verb (used with object), ca·noed, ca·noe·ing.
  1. to transport or carry by canoe.
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  1. paddle one's own canoe, Informal.
    1. to handle one's own affairs; manage independently.
    2. to mind one's own business.
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Origin of canoe

1545–55; < French < Spanish canoa < Arawak; replacing canoa < Spanish
Related formsca·noe·ist, noun
Can be confusedbarge boat canoe cruise ship sailboat ship yacht
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for paddle one's own canoe


  1. a light narrow open boat, propelled by one or more paddles
  2. NZ another word for waka (def. 1)
  3. in the same canoe NZ of the same tribe
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verb -noes, -noeing or -noed
  1. to go in a canoe or transport by canoe
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Derived Formscanoeing, nouncanoeist, noun

Word Origin

C16: from Spanish canoa, of Carib origin
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 paddle one's own canoe



1842, from canoe (n.). Related: Canoed; canoing.

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1550s, originally in a West Indian context, from Spanish canoa, a term used by Columbus, from Arawakan (Haiti) canaoua. Extended to rough-made or dugout boats generally. Early variants in English included cano, canow, canoa, etc., before spelling settled down c.1600.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with paddle one's own canoe

paddle one's own canoe

Be independent and self-reliant, as in It's time Bill learned to paddle his own canoe. This idiom alludes to steering one's own boat. [c. 1800]

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see paddle one's own canoe.

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