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From Middle English canevas, from Anglo-Norman, from Old Northern French canevas (compare Old French chanevas, chenevas) from a root derived from Latin cannabis, from Ancient Greek κάνναβις (kánnabis). Compare French canevas, resulting from a blend of the Old French and a Picard dialect word, itself from Old Northern French. Doublet of cannabis and hemp.



canvas (plural canvasses or canvases) (see usage notes)

  1. A type of coarse cloth, woven from hemp, useful for making sails and tents or as a surface for paintings.
    • 1882, James Edwin Thorold Rogers, A History of Agriculture and Prices in England, Volume 4, p. 556.
      The term canvas is very widely used, as well to denote the coarse fabrics employed for kitchen use, as for strainers, and wraps for meat, as for the best quality of ordinary table and shirting linen.
  2. A piece of canvas cloth stretched across a frame on which one may paint.
  3. A mesh of loosely woven cotton strands or molded plastic to be decorated with needlepoint, cross-stitch, rug hooking, or other crafts.
  4. (figuratively) A basis for creative work.
    The author takes rural midwestern life as a canvas for a series of tightly woven character studies
  5. (computer graphics) A region on which graphics can be rendered.
  6. (nautical) Sails in general.
  7. A tent.
    He spent the night under canvas.
  8. A painting, or a picture on canvas.
  9. A rough draft or model of a song, air, or other literary or musical composition; especially one to show a poet the measure of the verses he is to make.
  10. Alternative spelling of canvass.

Usage notes[edit]

The plural canvases is used primarily in the US, while the plural canvasses is used in the UK and most UK-influenced areas.

Derived terms[edit]



canvas (third-person singular simple present canvases, present participle canvasing, simple past and past participle canvased)

  1. To cover an area or object with canvas.
  2. Alternative spelling of canvass.




From Middle Dutch canevas, from Old Northern French canevas, from Latin cannabis, from Ancient Greek κάνναβις (kánnabis). The spelling was lated influenced by English canvas.


  • IPA(key): /ˈkɑn.vɑs/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: can‧vas


canvas n (plural canvassen)

  1. canvas, sail
    Synonym: zeildoek
  2. canvas, fabric used for painting
    Synonym: schilderdoek

Related terms[edit]


  • Indonesian: kampas



Borrowed from English canvas. Doublet of cânhamo, cânave, cânabis, and canábis.


  • IPA(key): (Brazil including São Paulo) /ˈkɐ̃.vɐs/, [ˈkɐ̃.vɐs]
    • IPA(key): (Rio) /ˈkɐ̃.vɐʃ/, [ˈkɐ̃.vɐʃ]
  • IPA(key): (Portugal) /ˈkɐ̃.vɐʃ/, [ˈkɐ̃.vɐʃ]


canvas m (plural canvas)

  1. (graphical user interface) canvas (area on which graphics are rendered)
  2. (business) business model canvas



canvas m

  1. canvas