"Canvas is an extremely heavy-duty fabric used for making sails, tents, marquees, backpacks, and other functions where sturdiness is required....The word canvas is derived from the Arabic word for cannabis -- hemp was popularly used to make canvas." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canvas
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[ME. canevas, a. ONF. canevas (Central OF. chanevas) = Pr. canabas, Sp. cañamazo, It. canavaccio ceus 'hempen', f. cannabis hemp. (From Lat. adjs. in ce-us, It. popolaccio, Eng. populace.) The word has entered into most of the European langs.
The spelling canvas, with one s, plural canvases (cf. atlases) is, it will be seen, more etymological than canvass, and now predominates; this spelling is also better used in the verb with the literal sense of 'furnish or line with canvas', whence canvased, canvasing; but the old derivative verb with sense 'to toss in a sheet, discuss, debate, solicit votes', is now always spelt CANVASS, and this spelling is retained in the verbal n. in turn derived from it, as 'the electoral canvass'
1. A strong or coarse unbleached cloth made of hemp or flax, used (in different forms) as the material for sails of ships, for tents, and by painters for oil-paintings, formerly also for clothing, etc. 1260
b. under canvas: in a tent or tents. 1864
2. A piece of canvas used for various purposes: as
a. A sheet, covering or screen; a filtering or bolting cloth; a blind for a carriage window, etc. Obs. c1390?
3. spec. As material for sails; sail-cloth; hence, sails collectively. under canvas: with sails spread. 1609
5. A clear unbleached cloth so woven as to present the appearance of close and regular lattice-work, used for working tapestry with the needle.
. Hawking. (An early use, of which the precise meaning is now obscure.) Cf. CANVAS v. 1. 1589
7. attrib. (or adj.) a. Of canvas.
1563 T. GALE Antidot. II. 49 Straine it through a newe canues clothe.
1627 DRAYTON Agincourt (R.) Barks..with their canvass wings
"But Officer wot thee smell, it be me old canvas bag for me olde gas maske."
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.