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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ I canvass for the Democrats at election times.
▪ I spent the whole afternoon canvassing voters.
▪ Party members were out canvassing as soon as the election was announced.
▪ Police canvassed the neighborhood but didn't find anyone who knew the man.
▪ The suggestion is being widely canvassed as a possible solution to the dispute.
▪ We canvassed over half the constituency by phone or text-message.
▪ In that race, the canvassing board determined that John Hoff defeated write-in candidate Lowell Stevens 265 to 259.
▪ In the experience of friends who canvass for the Labour party, old, white, middle-class men are the rudest.
▪ Lord Wilberforce examined the interests which an insurance-broking business might have in preventing an employee canvassing its clients once he had left.
▪ No one I canvassed had any personal complaint against the National Health Service.
▪ Session chairpersons were still being canvassed by Douglas during the week before he left.
▪ The council is canvassing local opinion before deciding next month whether to allow the concert to go ahead.
▪ This makes it harder to wax indignant at the ideas being canvassed in Washington.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Canvass \Can"vass\, n.

  1. Close inspection; careful review for verification; as, a canvass of votes.

  2. Examination in the way of discussion or debate.

  3. Search; exploration; solicitation; systematic effort to obtain votes, subscribers, etc.

    No previous canvass was made for me.


Canvass \Can"vass\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. canvassed; p. pr. & vb. n. Canvassing.] [OF. Canabasser to examine curiously, to search or sift out; properly, to sift through canvas. See Canvas, n.]

  1. To sift; to strain; to examine thoroughly; to scrutinize; as, to canvass the votes cast at an election; to canvass a district with reference to its probable vote.

    I have made careful search on all hands, and canvassed the matter with all possible diligence.

  2. To examine by discussion; to debate.

    An opinion that we are likely soon to canvass.
    --Sir W. Hamilton.

  3. To go through, with personal solicitation or public addresses; as, to canvass a district for votes; to canvass a city for subscriptions.


Canvass \Can"vass\, v. i. To search thoroughly; to engage in solicitation by traversing a district; as, to canvass for subscriptions or for votes; to canvass for a book, a publisher, or in behalf of a charity; -- commonly followed by for.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

c.1500, from alternative spelling of canvas (n.) and probably meaning, originally, "to toss or sift in a canvas sheet," hence "to shake out, examine carefully" (1520s); "to solicit votes" (1550s). The spelling with a double -s- dates from 16c. Compare Old French canabasser "to examine carefully," literally "to sift through canvas." Related: Canvassed; canvassing. As a noun related to this, attested from c.1600.


n. A solicitation of voters or public opinion. vb. 1 To solicit voters, opinions, etc. from; to go through, with personal solicitation or public addresses. 2 To conduct a survey. 3 To campaign. 4 To sift; to strain; to examine thoroughly; to scrutinize. 5 To examine by discussion; to debate.

  1. n. the setting for a narrative or fictional or dramatic account; "the crowded canvas of history"; "the movie demanded a dramatic canvas of sound" [syn: canvas]

  2. an inquiry into public opinion conducted by interviewing a random sample of people [syn: poll, opinion poll, public opinion poll]

  3. a large piece of fabric (as canvas) by means of which wind is used to propel a sailing vessel [syn: sail, canvas, sheet]

  4. a tent made of canvas [syn: canvas tent, canvas]

  5. an oil painting on canvas [syn: canvas]

  6. the mat that forms the floor of the ring in which boxers or professional wrestlers compete; "the boxer picked himself up off the canvas" [syn: canvas]

  7. heavy closely woven fabric (used for clothing or chairs or sails or tents) [syn: canvas]

  8. v. get the opinions (of people) by asking specific questions [syn: poll, canvas]

  9. solicit votes from potential voters in an electoral campaign [syn: canvas]

  10. consider in detail and subject to an analysis in order to discover essential features or meaning; "analyze a sonnet by Shakespeare"; "analyze the evidence in a criminal trial"; "analyze your real motives" [syn: analyze, analyse, study, examine, canvas]

Canvass (disambiguation)

A canvass is a systematic contacting of individuals in a target group.

Canvass may also refer to:

  • Canvass White (1790-1834), engineer and inventor
  • Canvass (business), a period of time when the seller meet the customer

Usage examples of "canvass".

Doris left and the crime-scene unit arrived, Adler and I waited for a warrant before canvassing the house and grounds.

Intensive canvassing of the area around the Biltmore had thus far yielded no verified sightings, the records of convicted sex loonies and registered sex offenders were still being combed, the four drool case confessors were still being held at City Jail awaiting alibi checks, sanity hearings and further questioning.

The yards hung, as seamen term it, a cockbill, or in such negligent and picturesque positions as an artist would most love to draw, while the drapery of the canvass was suspended in graceful and spotless festoons, as it had fallen by chance, or been cast carelessly from the hands of the boatmen.

The Customs shed was corrugated iron, manned by three bored workers in grimy white canvass jackets, supervised by a clerk who wore a blue guayabera shirt with CoDominium badges sewed to the epaulettes.

There was a chair and table, two easels, paints, a locked chest, and a number of canvasses stacked along the walls.

Laura and Seth canvassed in the black section of Magnolia to explain to those who were afraid to put in an appearance at the polls that they could use absentee ballots.

She could go back to Rehoboth Beach and try a door-to-door canvass of the neighbors, people Steve and Beth might have socialized with, nearby shopkeepers they patronized.

Officers had canvassed the cafes and bars she usually visited, but nobody had admitted seeing her that evening.

The canvasses of Chinatown and the surrounding areas had come up zero, one more time.

In the Dutch room, where they waited, there was a large table, with a pyramid of blank envelopes in the middle, and ever so many cubic feet of canvassing circulars, six chairs, and pens and ink.

So he got in one of the clerks who were directing the canvassing circulars, and gave him the draft, approved by his counsel, to read aloud, while he followed with his eye upon the engrossed deed.

He went into a town, persuaded an influential farmer to go about with him in a house-to-house canvass, talked to the other farmers of the vicinity, stirred them up to interest and excitement, organized a Grange, and then left the town.

On the third day of his canvass Arthur Fletcher with his gang of agents and followers behind him met Lopez with his gang in the street.

But Lopez had been by no means gratified with his canvass or with the conduct of the borough generally.

Silverbridge, in which Mr Lopez was supposed to tell them that although his canvass had promised him every success, he felt that he owed it to the borough to retire, lest he should injure the borough by splitting the Liberal interest with their much respected fellow-townsman, Mr Du Boung.