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canon +‎ -ical or canonic +‎ -al.



canonical (comparative more canonical, superlative most canonical)

  1. Present in a canon, religious or otherwise.
    The Gospel of Luke is a canonical New Testament book.
  2. According to recognised or orthodox rules.
    The men played golf in the most canonical way, with no local rules.
  3. Stated or used in the most basic and straightforwardly applicable manner.
    the reduction of a linear substitution to its canonical form
  4. Prototypical.
  5. (religion) In conformity with canon law.
  6. (music) In the form of a canon.
  7. (religion) Of or pertaining to an ecclesiastical chapter
  8. (mathematics, computing) In canonical form.
  9. (mathematics) Distinguished among entities of its kind, so that it can be picked out in a way that does not depend on any arbitrary choices.
    • 2011 February 7, Samson Abramsky; Nikos Tzevelekos, “Introduction to Categories and Categorical Logic”, in (Please provide the book title or journal name)[1], page 19:
      It turns out that ordered pairs can be defined in set theory, e.g. as


      Note that in no sense is such a definition canonical.



Derived termsEdit


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canonical (plural canonicals)

  1. (Roman Catholicism) The formal robes of a priest
    • 1857, Various, The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 1, Issue 2, December, 1857[2]:
      He, good man, could make but little of his solitary friend, and must many a time have been startled out of his canonicals by the strange, alien speeches which he heard.
    • 1915, H. G. Wells, The Research Magnificent[3]:
      When I was a boy I was a passionate atheist, I defied God, and so far as God is the mere sanction of social traditions and pressures, a mere dressing up of the crowd's will in canonicals, I do still deny him and repudiate him.
    • 1891, Emily Sarah Holt, The White Lady of Hazelwood[4]:
      Mr Altham rose, as in duty bound, in honour to a priest, and a priest who, as he dimly discerned by his canonicals, was not altogether a common one.