What does canonical mean?

Definitions for canonical
kəˈnɒn ɪ kəlcanon·i·cal

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word canonical.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. canonic, canonicaladjective

    appearing in a biblical canon

    "a canonical book of the Christian New Testament"

  2. canonic, canonicaladjective

    of or relating to or required by canon law

  3. basic, canonic, canonicaladjective

    reduced to the simplest and most significant form possible without loss of generality

    "a basic story line"; "a canonical syllable pattern"

  4. canonic, canonical, sanctionedadjective

    conforming to orthodox or recognized rules

    "the drinking of cocktails was as canonical a rite as the mixing"- Sinclair Lewis


  1. canonicaladjective

    Appearing in a Biblical canon; as, a canonical book of the Christian New Testament.

  2. canonicaladjective

    Accepted as authoritative; recognized.

  3. canonicaladjective

    (Math.) In its standard form, usually also the simplest form; -- of an equation or coordinate.

  4. canonicaladjective

    Pertaining to or resembling a musical canon.


  1. canonicalnoun

    The formal robes of a priest

  2. canonicaladjective

    Present in a canon, religious or otherwise.

    The Gospel of Luke is a canonical New Testament book.

  3. canonicaladjective

    According to recognised or orthodox rules.

    The men played golf in the most canonical way, with no local rules.

  4. canonicaladjective

    Stated or used in the most basic and straightforwardly applicable manner.

    the reduction of a linear substitution to its canonical form

  5. canonicaladjective


  6. canonicaladjective

    In conformity with canon law.

  7. canonicaladjective

    In the form of a canon.

  8. canonicaladjective

    Of or pertaining to an ecclesiastical chapter

  9. canonicaladjective

    In canonical form.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Canonicaladjective

    Etymology: canonicus, low Lat.

    Publick readings there are of books and writings, not canonical, whereby the church doth also preach, or openly make known the doctrine of virtuous conversation. Richard Hooker, b. v.

    No such book was found amongst those canonical scriptures. Walter Raleigh, History of the World.

    Seven times in a day do I praise thee, said David; from this definite number some ages of the church took their pattern for their canonical hours. Taylor.

    York anciently had a metropolitan jurisdiction over all the bishops of Scotland, from whom they had their consecration, and to whom they swore canonical obedience. John Ayliffe.


  1. Canonical

    The adjective canonical is applied in many contexts to mean "according to the canon" – the standard, rule or primary source that is accepted as authoritative for the body of knowledge or literature in that context. In mathematics, "canonical example" is often used to mean "archetype".


  1. canonical

    Canonical refers to something that is accepted as being accurate, authoritative or belonging to a particular rule, principle, or standard. It is commonly used to refer to works of literature, music or art that are traditionally considered to be of superior quality and are essential parts of the cultural heritage. The term also exists in mathematics, natural science, computer science and religion, where it may have specific meanings related to established conventions or principles.

The New Hacker's Dictionary

  1. canonical

    [very common; historically, ‘according to religious law’] The usual or standard state or manner of something. This word has a somewhat more technical meaning in mathematics. Two formulas such as 9 + x and x + 9 are said to be equivalent because they mean the same thing, but the second one is in canonical form because it is written in the usual way, with the highest power of x first. Usually there are fixed rules you can use to decide whether something is in canonical form. The jargon meaning, a relaxation of the technical meaning, acquired its present loading in computer-science culture largely through its prominence in Alonzo Church's work in computation theory and mathematical logic (see Knights of the Lambda Calculus). Compare vanilla.Non-technical academics do not use the adjective ‘canonical’ in any of the senses defined above with any regularity; they do however use the nouns canon and canonicity (not **canonicalness or **canonicality). The canon of a given author is the complete body of authentic works by that author (this usage is familiar to Sherlock Holmes fans as well as to literary scholars). ‘The canon’ is the body of works in a given field (e.g., works of literature, or of art, or of music) deemed worthwhile for students to study and for scholars to investigate.The word ‘canon’ has an interesting history. It derives ultimately from the Greek κανον (akin to the English ‘cane’) referring to a reed. Reeds were used for measurement, and in Latin and later Greek the word ‘canon’ meant a rule or a standard. The establishment of a canon of scriptures within Christianity was meant to define a standard or a rule for the religion. The above non-techspeak academic usages stem from this instance of a defined and accepted body of work. Alongside this usage was the promulgation of ‘canons’ (‘rules’) for the government of the Catholic Church. The techspeak usages (“according to religious law”) derive from this use of the Latin ‘canon’.Hackers invest this term with a playfulness that makes an ironic contrast with its historical meaning. A true story: One Bob Sjoberg, new at the MIT AI Lab, expressed some annoyance at the incessant use of jargon. Over his loud objections, GLS and RMS made a point of using as much of it as possible in his presence, and eventually it began to sink in. Finally, in one conversation, he used the word canonical in jargon-like fashion without thinking. Steele: “Aha! We've finally got you talking jargon too!” Stallman: “What did he say?” Steele: “Bob just used ‘canonical’ in the canonical way.”Of course, canonicality depends on context, but it is implicitly defined as the way hackers normally expect things to be. Thus, a hacker may claim with a straight face that ‘according to religious law’ is not the canonical meaning of canonical.

How to pronounce canonical?

How to say canonical in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of canonical in Chaldean Numerology is: 2

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of canonical in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Examples of canonical in a Sentence

  1. Charles Scicluna:

    The canonical process should in no way impede the right of people to exercise their right to civil justice.

  2. Jaime Ortiz de Lazcano:

    I was very surprised when they told me 'Father, go to the court because there's going to be a raid,' it's not common that (prosecutors) solicit information from a canonical investigation, but we are entirely willing to cooperate.

  3. David Renshaw:

    We are currently working with officials in the Philippines to locate Fr. Bien and return him to the United States to face the charges against him, a canonical review will begin soon, whether or not he returns to the States.

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Translations for canonical

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    a widespread outbreak of an infectious disease
    • A. ambidextrous
    • B. epidemic
    • C. adscripted
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