1a general law, rule, principle, or criterion by which something is judged:the appointment violated the canons of fair play and equal opportunity
a Church decree or law:a set of ecclesiastical canons [mass noun]:legislation which enables the Church of England General Synod to provide by canon for women to be ordained
2a collection or list of sacred books accepted as genuine:the biblical canon
the works of a particular author or artist that are recognized as genuine:the Shakespeare canon
the list of works considered to be permanently established as being of the highest quality:Hopkins was firmly established in the canon of English poetry
3 (also canon of the Mass) (in the Roman Catholic Church) the part of the Mass containing the words of consecration.
4 Music a piece in which the same melody is begun in different parts successively, so that the imitations overlap:the very simple rhythmic structure of this double canon [mass noun]:two quartets sing in close canon throughout
Music with different parts successively beginning the same melody.