Meaning of canonical


If something’s canonical, it follows a principle or rule, usually in a religious or church-related situation. It is also used in mathematics, music and can refer to something reduced to its most basic form.

The word canonical is from the root canon, with both evolving from the Latin cononicus, or “according to rule,” a meaning applied to religion during the Middle Ages. However, the definition of “rules” also applies in other areas as well. In mathematics, the word is used to describe an equation reduced to its most basic form. In canonical music, a melody line is repeated at intervals throughout a piece. Perhaps the most familiar of these is Pachebel’s “Canon in D.”

Definitions of canonical
  1. adjective

    conforming to orthodox or recognized rules

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

    canonic, sanctioned

    mainstream, orthodox

    adhering to what is commonly accepted
  2. adjective

    appearing in a biblical canon

    canonical book of the Christian New Testament”


  3. adjective

    of or relating to or required by canon law



  4. adjective

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

    canonical syllable pattern”

    basic, canonic


    established or well-known or widely recognized as a model of authority or excellence

Word Family

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