Definition of canonical in English:

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Pronunciation: /kəˈnänək(ə)l/


1According to or ordered by canon law: the canonical rites of the Roman Church
More example sentences
  • The re-establishment of the Bulgarian Patriarchy was opposed by the Ecumenical Patriarchy as it did not happen according to the canonical order.
  • When we look honestly at the facts, we see that there is no liturgical, theological, pastoral, or canonical reason that would keep the bishops from granting permission for the use of general absolution.
  • The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life.
2Included in the list of sacred books officially accepted as genuine: the canonical Gospels of the New Testament
More example sentences
  • They accepted the same Biblical books as canonical; their public worship centred on the Eucharist, and authority in all of them was vested in bishops.
  • To my knowledge, he's right; at any rate, its inclusion here honors that book's canonical status in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
  • No doctrine of inspiration needs undergird the text's authority; a doctrine of providence explains its composition, its canonical status accorded by the church, and its contemporary readings.
2.1Accepted as being accurate and authoritative: the canonical method of comparative linguistics
More example sentences
  • First, if you ever want to clean your MBR from whatever is installed there, the canonical method is to use the fdisk program from an MS-DOS boot floppy.
  • In our present work, we use the Replica Exchange Monte Carlo method to obtain the canonical distribution of both monomer and dimer forms separately.
  • Much of the controversy that Life is Beautiful attracted centres on its lack of authenticity in its departure from the accepted or canonical representation of the Holocaust, which is based on historical truth, realism and tragedy.
recognized, authoritative, authorized, accepted, sanctioned, approved, established, orthodox
2.2(Of an artist or work) belonging to the literary or artistic canon: canonical writers like Jane Austen
More example sentences
  • She pursues her task ambitiously, tirelessly, and scrupulously through the major texts of three canonical writers of early modern English literature.
  • These works have cast a long shadow, and their influence has helped to broaden approaches to a range of canonical writers.
  • In this groundbreaking study of canonical white writers, Morrison persuasively argues that a powerful black presence inhabits much of what we currently consider American literature.
2.3According to recognized rules or scientific laws: canonical nucleotide sequences
More example sentences
  • Several canonical and noncanonical nucleotide sequences, called E-boxes, lie within this region and show a wide range of DNA-binding affinities for the Sc-Da complexes.
  • Indeed, it is possible to recognize as canonical sentences those that conform in their structure to the normal clause patterns, such as subject-verb-direct object.
  • The best results were obtained by the local alignment method LALIGN, as the analyzed sequences contained numerous gaps, insertions, and duplications relative to the canonical hobo sequence.
2.4 Mathematics Relating to a general rule or standard formula.
Example sentences
  • Todd generalised the arithmetic genus and the invariants of the canonical system on an algebraic variety to a system of invariants of every codimension.
  • The standardized canonical discriminant function coefficients show the relative association between the discriminating variables and the discriminant functions.
  • For the most part these chapters do computations with specific examples, establishing canonical forms and other structure theorems for certain classes of groups.
3Relating to a cathedral chapter or a member of it.
Example sentences
  • Meanwhile on the churchly front, he served as canonical counselor and defender of the first Episcopal women priests irregularly ordained.
  • After an acrimonious debate, in 1981 The Catholic University revised its special bylaws and again required that professors have a canonical mission in order to teach theology.

plural noun

The prescribed official dress of the clergy: Cardinal Bea in full canonicals
More example sentences
  • There had been exquisite work in the carving of his canonicals.
  • Except in his canonicals, he does not have much of a physical presence or command a room when he enters it; and he is prolix.
  • We send ecclesiastical attire and sacred canonicals in every part of the world; visit our virtual show room now to choose the best for you.



Pronunciation: /-ik(ə)lē/
Example sentences
  • The most notorious was the clandestine - but canonically valid - marriage of the Prince of Wales, later King George IV, to the Catholic Maria Fitzherbert.
  • Since it was canonically formulated, the right of national self-determination has historically had two main zones of application, corresponding to its dual ancestry.
  • But conventional, non-theoretical criticism often acts as if questions of value are irrelevant, or canonically settled.


Late Middle English: from medieval Latin canonicalis, from Latin canonicus (see canonic).

Words that rhyme with canonical

chronicle, conical, ironical

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ca·non·i·cal

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