Definition of canalize in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈkan(ə)lˌīz/


[with object]
1Convert (a river) into a navigable canal.
Example sentences
  • This was a side effect of the Industrial Revolution; many of our rivers were canalised and made navigable during the C19th which stuffed it all up with weirs and locks and pollution.
  • Some wetlands were drained, as noted above, and rivers and watercourses were canalized.
  • Its rise to fame dates only from the middle of the 19th century when the river Baise was canalized and the Armagnacais gained direct access to Bordeaux for the first time.
1.1Convey (something) through a duct or channel.
Example sentences
  • The only significant natural damaging action, in the current climate, is erosion by topographically canalised rain water, mostly confined to becks and burns.
  • One of the greatest threats to a ground force comes when it moves through canalizing terrain or when it maneuvers through other types of barriers.
  • The bocage, low-lying country with high hedgerows, offered insufficient routes of advance and canalized American movements, which the Germans easily countered.
1.2Give a direction or purpose to (something): his strategy was to canalize the enthusiasm of the diehards into party channels
More example sentences
  • The Romans were a litigious lot and created a vast structure of law which saved the Republic by canalising disputes into the courts.
  • We need to canalize public anger in a way that really makes an impact.
  • With a view to capturing and canalizing the excess energy of this segment of the populations, several organizations have been created with the ostensible purpose of serving youths as well as other social interests.



Pronunciation: /ˌkanələˈzāSH(ə)n/
Example sentences
  • Physiological canalization may limit the number of phenotypes that can be produced in response to environmental variation.
  • This pattern may suggest some form of morphological stability due to selection, canalization, or a constraint operating on wing shape.
  • This last mechanism is known as canalization and can lead to the buildup of hidden or cryptic genetic variation.


Mid 19th century: from French canaliser, from canal 'channel' (see canal).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: can·al·ize

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.