General English


  • noun a small hand-powered narrow boat with pointed ends


  • noun a lightweight boat, pointed at each end, that can be paddled by one or two people and can carry passengers.
  • verb to paddle a canoe, often as a sport or hobby

Origin & History of “canoe”

like cannibal, canoe is a word of Caribbean origin. In the language of the local Carib people it was canaoua, and it passed via Arawakan into Spanish (recorded by Christopher Columbus) as canoa. That was the form in which it first came into English; modern canoe is due to the influence of French canoe. Originally, the word was used for referring to any simple boat used by ‘primitive’ tribes; it was not until the late 18th century that a more settled idea of what we would today recognize as a canoe began to emerge.