Definition of canary in English:

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Pronunciation: /kəˈnɛːri/

noun (plural canaries)

1A mainly African finch with a melodious song, typically having yellowish-green plumage. One kind is popular as a cage bird and has been bred in a variety of colours, especially bright yellow.
  • Genus Serinus, family Fringillidae: several species, especially the island canary (S. canaria), which is native to the Canary Islands, the Azores, and Madeira, and from which the domestic canary was developed.
Example sentences
  • Janet has been keeping exotic birds including cockatiels, finches and canaries for 12 years.
  • Finches, canaries and budgerigars do not need as much attention from their people and so may be an option for those with busy life-styles.
  • Budgies, finches, sparrows and canaries are only a few of the more than one hundred kinds of birds people keep in their apartments.
2 (also canary yellow) [mass noun] A bright yellow colour resembling the plumage of a canary: [as modifier]: villas painted in canary yellow a canary waistcoat
More example sentences
  • African marigold comes in yellow and orange colours in various hues such as light yellow, canary yellow, golden yellow, bright yellow, cadmium, orange, golden orange, deep orange, bright orange.
  • A strong ethnic collection, it uses vivid colours which range form burgundy and strong fuchsia to canary yellow and electric blue.
  • The landscaping was so much better than anything around it, and despite the ugly color contrast of bright canary yellow and brown it was in very nice shape.
3 (also canary wine) [mass noun] historical A sweet wine from the Canary Islands, similar to Madeira.
Example sentences
  • His drinks cellar would have been stocked with vast quantities of strong beer and small beer (a weaker brew), as well as a range of wines such as claret and canary.
  • This was considered as a trial of victory among these ‘canary birds,’ or bibbers of canary wine.
  • Shakespeare refers to canary wine in Twelfth Night and The Merry Wives of Windsor.


Late 16th century: from French canari, from Spanish canario 'canary' or 'person from the Canary Islands' (see Canary Islands).

  • The canary acquired its name from the Canary Islands, which is where the ancestors of our cage birds originate. The name of the islands comes from Latin canaria insula, which meant ‘island of dogs’ from canis ‘dog’, one of the islands having had a large population of dogs. Canis is also the source of canine (Late Middle English) and kennel (Middle English).

Words that rhyme with canary

airy, Azeri, carabinieri, Carey, Cary, chary, clary, contrary, dairy, Dari, faerie, glairy, glary, Guarneri, hairy, lairy, miserere, nary, Nyerere, prairie, Salieri, scary, Tipperary, vary, wary

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: can¦ary

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