an ecclesiastical rule or law enacted by a council or other competent authority and, in the Roman Catholic Church, approved by the pope.
the body of ecclesiastical law.
the body of rules, principles, or standards accepted as axiomatic and universally binding in a field of study or art:
the neoclassical canon.
a fundamental principle or general rule:
the canons of good behavior.
a standard; criterion:
the canons of taste.
the books of the Bible recognized by any Christian church as genuine and inspired.
any officially recognized set of sacred books.
any comprehensive list of books within a field.
the works of an author that have been accepted as authentic:
There are 37 plays in the Shakespeare canon.
Compare apocrypha (def 3).
a catalog or list, as of the saints acknowledged by the Church.
Liturgy. the part of the Mass between the Sanctus and the Communion.
Eastern Church. a liturgical sequence sung at matins, usually consisting of nine odes arranged in a fixed pattern.
Music. consistent, note-for-note imitation of one melodic line by another, in which the second line starts after the first.
Printing. a 48-point type.
one of a body of dignitaries or prebendaries attached to a cathedral or a collegiate church; a member of the chapter of a cathedral or a collegiate church.
Roman Catholic Church. one of the members (canons regular) of certain religious orders.
a deep valley with steep sides, often with a stream flowing through it.
Contemporary Examples

Who’s Afraid of Fake Memoirists? Ben Crair March 5, 2009
British Raunchfest ‘The Inbetweeners Movie’ Tries to Make Its Mark in America Kevin Fallon September 7, 2012
Turkey Arrests Journalists in Crackdown Jesse Rosenfeld December 13, 2014
America’s 10 Hottest Classes Kathleen Kingsbury September 7, 2009
Must Reads: Kennedy, Sontag and Paris, ‘A Partial History of Lost Causes,’ ‘City of Bohane,’ ‘Flatscreen’ Lauren Elkin, Mythili Rao, Drew Toal, Nicholas Mancusi April 5, 2012

Historical Examples

Musical Criticisms Arthur Johnstone
The Western World W.H.G. Kingston
Bell’s Cathedrals: The Cathedral Church of Exeter Percy Addleshaw
Dona Perfecta B. Perez Galdos
The Mystery of Edwin Drood Charles Dickens

(Christianity) a Church decree enacted to regulate morals or religious practices
(often pl) a general rule or standard, as of judgment, morals, etc
(often pl) a principle or accepted criterion applied in a branch of learning or art
(RC Church) the complete list of the canonized saints
(RC Church) the prayer in the Mass in which the Host is consecrated
a list of writings, esp sacred writings, officially recognized as genuine
a piece of music in which an extended melody in one part is imitated successively in one or more other parts See also round (sense 31), catch (sense 33)
a list of the works of an author that are accepted as authentic
(formerly) a size of printer’s type equal to 48 point
one of several priests on the permanent staff of a cathedral, who are responsible for organizing services, maintaining the fabric, etc
(RC Church) Also called canon regular. a member of either of two religious orders, the Augustinian or Premonstratensian Canons, living communally as monks but performing clerical duties
a variant spelling of canyon
a gorge or ravine, esp in North America, usually formed by the down-cutting of a river in a dry area where there is insufficient rainfall to erode the sides of the valley
A long, deep, narrow valley with steep cliff walls, cut into the Earth by running water and often having a stream at the bottom.


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