Definition of colony in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkɒləni/

noun (plural colonies)

1A country or area under the full or partial political control of another country and occupied by settlers from that country: Japanese forces overran the French colony of Indo-China
More example sentences
  • Imperial self-assertion required first of all that Italy seize full control of the colonies it already possessed.
  • Britain obtained German colonies and full command of the European seas.
  • Canberra used the conflict to seize control of German colonies, in particular German New Guinea, the Solomons and other islands.
territory, possession, holding, dependency, province, dominion, protectorate, satellite (state), settlement, outpost
historical tributary, fief
1.1A group of people living in a colony, consisting of the original settlers and their descendants and successors: the colony looked forward to fifty or more years of autonomy
More example sentences
  • German success in Europe in 1940 had orphaned French and Dutch colonies in the region and they became the focus of Japanese attention.
  • The accepted strategy of establishing colonies and controlling a lucrative trade to and from them never really worked for the Dutch in the Atlantic, at least not for long.
  • The territories thus depopulated were then occupied by well organized colonies from Germany.
1.2 (the colonies) All the foreign countries or areas formerly under British political control: many poachers were exiled to the colonies
More example sentences
  • I'm beginning to forget what's so bad about British rule in the colonies.
  • A number of tables and graphs purport to show the great improvements which the British brought to the colonies.
  • They lack the moral grit that sent so much of the flower of Oxbridge out to the colonies during the heyday of the British Empire.
1.3 (the colonies) The thirteen areas on the east coast of North America that gained independence from Britain and founded the United States of America.
Example sentences
  • The war petered out, and the colonies gained their collective independence.
  • In 1787, delegates of the colonies adopted the United States Constitution.
  • The practice persisted in the United States even after the colonies declared their independence.
2A group of people of one nationality or race living in a foreign place: the British colony in New York
More example sentences
  • He mobilized the elite of the American colony in Paris into a volunteer committee, whose first task was to help stranded tourists obtain money.
  • The first and largest Irish colony in London could be found in St Giles in the Fields.
  • There was an important Italian colony in London, mostly of Florentines and Lucchese, dealing in silk and silk fabrics.
population, community
2.1A place where a group of people with the same occupation or interest live together: a nudist colony
More example sentences
  • Life would be so much easier if we lived in a nudist colony, where the way we really looked meant more to others than the clothes we wore.
  • It is all that remains of the leper colony which once occupied the site.
  • In its first phase it was no more than a trading station, which most likely provided the base for a colony of foreign merchants.
community, association, commune, settlement, quarter, district, section, ghetto
3 Biology A community of animals or plants of one kind living close together or forming a physically connected structure: a colony of seals
More example sentences
  • All you have to do is dive near any large seal colony and let the animals' natural curiosity and playfulness do the rest.
  • Thought to be extinct, a last colony of 18 animals was discovered in Wyoming in 1981, and now there are some 1,600 in the West.
  • About 11 colonies of the plant are found in two locations in the northern area of the city of Scotts Valley, along with other locally rare plant species.
3.1A group of fungi or bacteria grown from a single spore or cell on a culture medium.
Example sentences
  • They can culture and maintain colonies of the stem cells.
  • By growing a human stem cell colony from a single cell, researchers are one step closer to deriving a homogenous population of cells of a particular type.
  • We tested this by restreaking cells from colonies grown for 15-96 hours.


Late Middle English (denoting a settlement formed mainly of retired soldiers, acting as a garrison in newly conquered territory in the Roman Empire): from Latin colonia 'settlement, farm', from colonus 'settler, farmer', from colere 'cultivate'.

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