Definition of canvass in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkanvəs/


[with object]
1Solicit votes from (electors or members): in each ward, two workers canvassed some 2,000 voters [no object]: he’s canvassing for the Green Party
More example sentences
  • He said that probable candidates were obviously canvassing for votes from affiliates.
  • The move is to ensure that every member standing for re-election knows how to respond if they are quizzed by residents, while out canvassing for votes during the upcoming June elections.
  • Mr Smith said he picked up more than 20 complaints of thefts, vandalism, assault and criminal damage while he was out canvassing for votes before the recent elections.
campaign, electioneer, solicit votes, drum up support;
North American  stump
British informal doorstep
North American informal be a ward heeler
1.1Try to obtain (support): they’re canvassing support among shareholders
More example sentences
  • OM's bid will expire at the end of October and in the interim period the management are expected to visit Ireland and Britain to canvass shareholders for their support.
  • When she returns to work at Kingston's John Lewis department store on Monday when her maternity leave ends, she intends to canvass the support of her colleagues in the staff magazine.
  • He did not canvass any support but he hoped it would be carried and circulated to every other local authority in the country.
1.2Question (someone) in order to ascertain their opinion: they promised to canvass all member clubs for their views
More example sentences
  • Nor have any residents been canvassed for their opinion.
  • After the body was found, teams of gardaí returned to canvass those people in the area around where Robert disappeared.
  • The conference is also an opportunity to canvass young people's views on the council's new ‘Change for Children’ that will aim to give young people more of a say in the services they receive.
poll, question, ask, survey, interview, sound out, ascertain the opinions of
2Propose (an idea or plan) for discussion: early retirement was canvassed as a solution to the problem of unemployment
More example sentences
  • Lasting a week, it is both a serious meeting between Grimwade, Perkins, Hagan and their managers to discuss the next year's business plan and budgets, and a forum to canvass new ideas and directions.
  • A healthy living co-ordinator will go to bingo sessions to canvass ideas for a £1 million healthy living centre in Allerton.
  • The Federal Opposition says most students would get a second-class education under plans canvassed by the Government's higher education review.
2.1Discuss thoroughly: the issues that were canvassed are still unresolved
More example sentences
  • I expect that many people will make submissions to the committee, and this will enable the matters addressed in the bill to be thoroughly canvassed.
  • The review has already commenced, and we in New Zealand First prefer to see this issue more thoroughly and clearly canvassed in the review.
  • These issues are thoroughly canvassed in the Research Agenda and Background Report.


An act of canvassing: a house-to-house canvass
More example sentences
  • At election times on the canvass, her warmth and good nature struck a chord with most who met her.
  • Several local issues were discussed including the long awaited sewage scheme which had been promised by Fianna Fail on their canvass before the last General Election.
  • Many people have raised the ban on smoking in public houses with me during my election canvass.



Pronunciation: /ˈkanvəsə/
Example sentences
  • IT'S a pleasant if slightly cold morning in Stradbally and Deputy Charles Flanagan and his team of canvassers are out looking for votes for D-Day, May 17.
  • But as the election campaign gains momentum, young Sinn Fein canvassers will be pounding the beat in Northern Ireland, exuding their customary dynamism.
  • The Guardian has seen a transcript of a telephone conference call involving the head of the alliance in which the participants discuss how the new group would send thousands of canvassers into marginal seats.


Early 16th century (in the sense 'toss in a canvas sheet' (as a sport or punishment)): from canvas. Later extended senses include 'criticize, discuss' (mid 16th century) and 'propose for discussion'; hence 'seek support for'.

Words that rhyme with canvass


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: can|vass

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