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Wordnet 3.0

ADJECTIVE (4)

1. appearing in a biblical canon;
- Example: "a canonical book of the Christian New Testament"
[syn: canonic, canonical]

2. of or relating to or required by canon law;
[syn: canonic, canonical]

3. reduced to the simplest and most significant form possible without loss of generality;
- Example: "a basic story line"
- Example: "a canonical syllable pattern"
[syn: basic, canonic, canonical]

4. conforming to orthodox or recognized rules;
- Example: "the drinking of cocktails was as canonical a rite as the mixing"- Sinclair Lewis
[syn: canonic, canonical, sanctioned]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

canonic \ca*non"ic\ (k[.a]*n[o^]n"[i^]k), canonical \ca*non"ic*al\ (k[.a]*n[o^]n"[i^]*kal), a. [L. canonicus, LL. canonicalis, fr. L. canon: cf. F. canonique. See canon.] Of or pertaining to a canon; established by, or according to, a canon or canons. "The oath of canonical obedience." --Hallam. [1913 Webster] 2. Appearing in a Biblical canon; as, a canonical book of the Christian New Testament. [PJC] 3. Accepted as authoritative; recognized. [PJC] 4. (Math.) In its standard form, usually also the simplest form; -- of an equation or coordinate. [PJC] 5. (Linguistics) Reduced to the simplest and most significant form possible without loss of generality; as, a canonical syllable pattern. Opposite of nonstandard. Syn: standard. [WordNet 1.5] 6. Pertaining to or resembling a musical canon. [PJC] Canonical books, or Canonical Scriptures, those books which are declared by the canons of the church to be of divine inspiration; -- called collectively the canon. The Roman Catholic Church holds as canonical several books which Protestants reject as apocryphal. Canonical epistles, an appellation given to the epistles called also general or catholic. See Catholic epistles, under Canholic. Canonical form (Math.), the simples or most symmetrical form to which all functions of the same class can be reduced without lose of generality. Canonical hours, certain stated times of the day, fixed by ecclesiastical laws, and appropriated to the offices of prayer and devotion; also, certain portions of the Breviary, to be used at stated hours of the day. In England, this name is also given to the hours from 8 a. m. to 3 p. m. (formerly 8 a. m. to 12 m.) before and after which marriage can not be legally performed in any parish church. Canonical letters, letters of several kinds, formerly given by a bishop to traveling clergymen or laymen, to show that they were entitled to receive the communion, and to distinguish them from heretics. Canonical life, the method or rule of living prescribed by the ancient clergy who lived in community; a course of living prescribed for the clergy, less rigid than the monastic, and more restrained that the secular. Canonical obedience, submission to the canons of a church, especially the submission of the inferior clergy to their bishops, and of other religious orders to their superiors. Canonical punishments, such as the church may inflict, as excommunication, degradation, penance, etc. Canonical sins (Anc. Church.), those for which capital punishment or public penance decreed by the canon was inflicted, as idolatry, murder, adultery, heresy. [1913 Webster]
WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006):

canonical adj 1: appearing in a biblical canon; "a canonical book of the Christian New Testament" [syn: canonic, canonical] 2: of or relating to or required by canon law [syn: canonic, canonical] 3: reduced to the simplest and most significant form possible without loss of generality; "a basic story line"; "a canonical syllable pattern" [syn: basic, canonic, canonical] 4: conforming to orthodox or recognized rules; "the drinking of cocktails was as canonical a rite as the mixing"- Sinclair Lewis [syn: canonic, canonical, sanctioned]
Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0:

89 Moby Thesaurus words for "canonical": Biblical, Christian, Gospel, Mariological, Mosaic, New-Testament, Old-Testament, abbatial, abbatical, accepted, apocalyptic, apostolic, approved, archiepiscopal, authentic, authoritative, binding, canonic, capitular, capitulary, churchly, clerical, confessional, conventional, correct, creedal, customary, dictated, didactic, divine, doctrinal, doctrinary, dogmatic, ecclesiastic, episcopal, episcopalian, evangelic, evangelical, evangelistic, faithful, firm, formulary, gospel, hard and fast, inspired, instructive, literal, mandatory, ministerial, of the faith, official, orthodox, orthodoxical, pastoral, physicotheological, preceptive, prelatial, prelatic, prescribed, prescript, prescriptive, priest-ridden, priestish, priestly, proper, prophetic, rabbinic, received, regulation, religious, revealed, revelational, right, rubric, sacerdotal, sanctioned, scriptural, sound, standard, statutory, textual, textuary, theological, theopneustic, traditional, traditionalistic, true, true-blue, ultramontane
The Jargon File (version 4.4.7, 29 Dec 2003):

canonical adj. [very common; historically, ?according to religious law?] The usual or standard state or manner of something. This word has a somewhat more technical meaning in mathematics. Two formulas such as 9 + x and x + 9 are said to be equivalent because they mean the same thing, but the second one is in canonical form because it is written in the usual way, with the highest power of x first. Usually there are fixed rules you can use to decide whether something is in canonical form. The jargon meaning, a relaxation of the technical meaning, acquired its present loading in computer-science culture largely through its prominence in Alonzo Church's work in computation theory and mathematical logic (see Knights of the Lambda Calculus). Compare vanilla. Non-technical academics do not use the adjective ?canonical? in any of the senses defined above with any regularity; they do however use the nouns canon and canonicity (not **canonicalness or **canonicality). The canon of a given author is the complete body of authentic works by that author (this usage is familiar to Sherlock Holmes fans as well as to literary scholars). ?The canon? is the body of works in a given field (e.g., works of literature, or of art, or of music) deemed worthwhile for students to study and for scholars to investigate. The word ?canon? has an interesting history. It derives ultimately from the Greek ????? (akin to the English ?cane?) referring to a reed. Reeds were used for measurement, and in Latin and later Greek the word ?canon? meant a rule or a standard. The establishment of a canon of scriptures within Christianity was meant to define a standard or a rule for the religion. The above non-techspeak academic usages stem from this instance of a defined and accepted body of work. Alongside this usage was the promulgation of ?canons? (?rules?) for the government of the Catholic Church. The techspeak usages (?according to religious law?) derive from this use of the Latin ?canon?. Hackers invest this term with a playfulness that makes an ironic contrast with its historical meaning. A true story: One Bob Sjoberg, new at the MIT AI Lab, expressed some annoyance at the incessant use of jargon. Over his loud objections, GLS and RMS made a point of using as much of it as possible in his presence, and eventually it began to sink in. Finally, in one conversation, he used the word canonical in jargon-like fashion without thinking. Steele: ?Aha! We've finally got you talking jargon too!? Stallman: ?What did he say?? Steele: ?Bob just used ?canonical? in the canonical way.? Of course, canonicality depends on context, but it is implicitly defined as the way hackers normally expect things to be. Thus, a hacker may claim with a straight face that ?according to religious law? is not the canonical meaning of canonical.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (18 March 2015):

canonical (Historically, "according to religious law") 1. A standard way of writing a formula. Two formulas such as 9 + x and x + 9 are said to be equivalent because they mean the same thing, but the second one is in "canonical form" because it is written in the usual way, with the highest power of x first. Usually there are fixed rules you can use to decide whether something is in canonical form. Things in canonical form are easier to compare. 2. The usual or standard state or manner of something. The term acquired this meaning in computer-science culture largely through its prominence in Alonzo Church's work in computation theory and mathematical logic (see Knights of the Lambda-Calculus). Compare vanilla. This word has an interesting history. Non-technical academics do not use the adjective "canonical" in any of the senses defined above with any regularity; they do however use the nouns "canon" and "canonicity" (not "canonicalness"* or "canonicality"*). The "canon" of a given author is the complete body of authentic works by that author (this usage is familiar to Sherlock Holmes fans as well as to literary scholars). "The canon" is the body of works in a given field (e.g. works of literature, or of art, or of music) deemed worthwhile for students to study and for scholars to investigate. The word "canon" derives ultimately from the Greek "kanon" (akin to the English "cane") referring to a reed. Reeds were used for measurement, and in Latin and later Greek the word "canon" meant a rule or a standard. The establishment of a canon of scriptures within Christianity was meant to define a standard or a rule for the religion. The above non-technical academic usages stem from this instance of a defined and accepted body of work. Alongside this usage was the promulgation of "canons" ("rules") for the government of the Catholic Church. The usages relating to religious law derive from this use of the Latin "canon". It may also be related to arabic "qanun" (law). Hackers invest this term with a playfulness that makes an ironic contrast with its historical meaning. A true story: One Bob Sjoberg, new at the MIT AI Lab, expressed some annoyance at the incessant use of jargon. Over his loud objections, GLS and RMS made a point of using as much of it as possible in his presence, and eventually it began to sink in. Finally, in one conversation, he used the word "canonical" in jargon-like fashion without thinking. Steele: "Aha! We've finally got you talking jargon too!" Stallman: "What did he say?" Steele: "Bob just used "canonical" in the canonical way." Of course, canonicality depends on context, but it is implicitly defined as the way *hackers* normally expect things to be. Thus, a hacker may claim with a straight face that "according to religious law" is *not* the canonical meaning of "canonical". (2002-02-06)