canvas and canvass - the difference

Canvas is heavy cloth.
To canvass means to survey opinion or to solicit votes.

The words canvas and canvass sound identical, but their meanings are very different.


The noun canvas (with one s at the end) refers to a heavy woven cloth of hemp, flax or cotton. It is used for sails, tents and paintings.  The word canvas is also used figuratively for the floor of a boxing or wrestling ring (i.e., they are often not made of canvas).


The verb canvass has several closely related meanings. It can mean:
To collect opinions.

Can you canvass the local area to determine the support for the bypass? 

To electioneer (i.e., to collect votes through persuasion of voters in a political campaign).

Mr Millar will arrange for Joan's team to canvass High Street and Bond Street on Saturday. We need as much support from the west side of town as possible.
To examine closely.

Penny canvassed every shop in Wigan before she found the right
To ask around

The investigation team will canvass the neighborhood to see whether there were any witnesses to the crash.

Canvass Used as a Noun

Nowadays, canvass is used as a noun to denote the processes above.


Did your canvass of the local area succeed in determining the support for the bypass?

I heard Joan's canvass was postponed due to the storm.
(The noun canvassing is more common than the noun canvass. It can be substituted into both examples above.)
Select the correct version:



Use the last two letters of canvass to bring solicit support to mind.

See also:

What are nouns?
What are verbs?
List of easily confused words

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