Canvas and Canvass

Our most common search themes:

What is the difference between canvas and canvass?

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

Canvas and Canvass

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 typically 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 to 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 shoes.
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. For example:
  • 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.
Note: The noun canvassing is more common than canvass. It can be substituted into both examples above.
Select the correct version:


Canvass Means Solicit Support

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

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

More Free Help...

All the lessons and tests on Grammar Monster are free. Here's some more free help:

Follow Us on Twitter Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Facebook
by Craig Shrives Follow us on Google+
mail tip Sign up for our daily tip emails
Chat about grammar Ask a grammar question
Search Search this site

Buy Some Help...

Too busy to read everything on Grammar Monster? Here are the paid services we recommend to learn grammar and to keep your writing error free:

Paste your text into Grammarly's online interface for corrections and recommendations. (Free trial available)

Press F2 while using Word, PowerPoint, etc., for corrections and recommendations. (Free trial available)

Send your text to a trained editor and grammar geek for checking. (Free trial available)

Learn English (or another language) with a state-of-the-art program. (Free trial available)

Buy Our Book...

Buy "Grammar Rules: Writing with Military Precision" by Craig Shrives (founder of Grammar Monster).

More info...