Canvas and Canvass

Commonly confused words

Painting on canvas
Rebecca Tabor Armstrong/Moment/Getty Images

The words canvas and canvass are homophones: they sound alike but have different meanings.
The noun canvas refers to a closely woven cloth used for such things as tents, sails, and oil paintings.

The verb canvass means to look over carefully or to solicit votes, orders, or opinions. As a noun, canvass means the act of estimating an outcome or gathering support for a vote.

Examples

  • Ella pressed the knife as hard as she could against the thick canvas of the sail.
  • From morning to night the young candidate for mayor went from door to door to canvass the voters.
  • The campaign included six automobiles loaded with good speakers for a two-day personal canvass.

Practice

(a) The instructor must _____ the students to find a time when most can leave the campus for several hours.
(b) In the middle of the 1500s, Titian began painting on rough _____ rather than on smooth wooden panels.

Answers to Practice Exercises

(a) The instructor must canvass the students to find a time when most can leave the campus for several hours.
(b) In the middle of the 1500s, Titian began painting on rough canvas rather than on smooth wooden panels.