cani-, can-

(Latin: dog)

1. A small finch (Serinus canaria) native to the Canary Islands that is greenish to yellow and has long been bred as a cage bird.
2. Slang: a woman singer; an informer; a stool pigeon.
3. A sweet white wine from the Canary Islands, similar to Madeira.
4. A light to moderate or vivid yellow.
5. Etymology: from about 1584, of the wine; and from about 1655, referring to the songbirds (short for Canary-bird, 1576), from French canarie, from Spanish canario, from Latin Insula Canaria, "Canary Island"; the largest of the Fortunate Isles. Literally, "island of dogs", (canis, genitive canarius, "a reference to dogs") since large dogs lived there. The name of the little bird resulted from the name of the island. The name was extended to the whole island group (Canariæ Insulæ) by the time of Arnobius (c.300).

More details about the Canary Islands

A few years after the death of Julius Caesar, or about 40 B.C., the chieftain of an extensive region in northwest Africa, then called Mauritania, set out upon a sea journey of exploration.

On clear days, about sixty miles off the coast of the southern stretches of his country, the peaks of small islands could be seen. Juba II (c.50 B.C-A.D. 24), the Mauritanian chieftain (king of Numidia and Mauretania), determined to explore those islands. An account of his explorations was preserved by Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23-79) who wrote about Juba's account of his expeditions to a group of islands off the northwest coast of Africa.

The islands are believed to have been known long before this time, however, for somewhere to the west of the "Pillars of Hercules"; by which ancient mariners meant what we now call the Strait of Gibraltar, lay the mythological "Fortunate Islands", or "Isles of the Blest".

According to Greek legend, this was the abode of such mortals as had been saved from death by the gods. The climate was idyllic and food was abundant. These are thought to have been the same islands seen and explored by Juba. One of the islands, Juba found, had its peaks; which were above eleven thousand feet in elevation, covered with snow.

To this "dog island", he gave the Latin name, Nivaria, or "The Snowy Island". The impressive feature of another of the larger islands was the multitude of large dogs which roamed there. For that reason, he named it Canaria, or "The Island of Dogs", from canis, "dog".

Although neither Juba nor Pliny was aware of it, the dogs that gave the islands their names were probably not indigenous, but brought by earlier invaders from Africa.

The name Canaria was used by later explorers and colonists; becoming Canary in English, and it was the name by which the entire archipelago became known.

Spain took possession of the islands in the fifteenth century, but it was another hundred years before the most widely known of the products of the islands, the yellow-colored songbird, was domesticated and carried to all parts of Europe.

We call the bird a canary; the dogs from which the name originated have long been extinct; and so we now know that the yellow domestic canary is a descendant of the wild greenish birds of the "dog islands".

—Based on information from
Thereby Hangs a Tale by Charles Earle Funk;
Harper and Row, Publishers; New York; 1950; page 58.
Webster's Word Histories; Merriam-Webster, Inc., Publishers;
Springfield, Massachusetts; 1989; page 82.
The killing of dogs; a dog-killer.
An acute feverish disease in people and in dogs marked by gastroenteritis and mild jaundice.
The brightest star in the sky; in Canis Major.
1. Of or relating to the dog days of summer: "The canicular heat of the Deep South."
2. Relating to or especially immediately preceding or following the heliacal rising of Canicula (the Dog Star); "canicular days."
3. Etymology: Latin canicularis through French caniculaire.
1. A star in the constellation of Canis Major, called also the dog-star, or Sirius; a star of the first magnitude, and the largest and brightest of all the fixed stars.

From the rising of this heliacally, or at its emersion from the sun's rays, the ancients reckoned their dog-days.

2. The hot period between early July and early September; a period of inactivity.
caniculture (s) (noun), canicultures (pl)
The breeding and rearing of dogs.
Dogs, wolves, jackals, foxes; also called: family Canidae.
Dog-shaped carnivores which are a suborder within the order Carnivora.

They typically possess a long snout and non-retractile claws (in contrast to the cat-like carnivores, the Feliformia). The Pinnipedia (seals, sea lions, and walruses) evolved from caniform ancestors and are accordingly assigned to this group.

canine (adjective)
Of or relating to dogs: "There is no disputing the canine loyalty of people's dogs."

"Some organizations provide canine therapy with old people and even children when they take dogs for friendly visits."

canine (s) (noun), canines (pl)
1. A dog, a coyote, or a wolf: "The police are known to call their drug-sniffing canines, or dogs, the K-9 unit."
2. One of four pointed conical teeth: "There are normally two-pointed canine teeth in the upper jaw and two in the lower jaw."
canine distemper
A viral disease of young dogs characterized by high fever and respiratory inflammation.
canine herpesvirus
A herpesvirus causing an upper respiratory tract infection which becomes generalized in puppies under one week of age, terminating invariably in death. Infection is milder in older puppies and asymptomatic in adult dogs while the latter may become convalescent viral shedders.
canine: dogs; teeth
1. Similar to dogs; of, belonging to, or characteristic of, a dog; having the nature or qualities of a dog; such as, of appetite, hunger, etc.: voracious, greedy, as that of a dog (according to the Oxford English Dictionary)
2. Any of various fissiped mammals with nonretractile claws and typically long muzzles.
3. Of, relating to, or being one of the pointed conical teeth located between the incisors and the first bicuspids.
4. One of the four pointed conical teeth (two in each jaw) located between the incisors and the premolars.
Resembling or having the form of a typical canine tooth.

Related "dog" word family: cyno-, kyno-.