Make Your Editor Cry: Canvass vs. Canvas

Make Your Editor Cry:  Canvass vs. Canvas

To canvass is to go through (a district) or go to (persons) in order to solicit orders or political support or to determine opinions or sentiments. Law enforcement will often canvass the residents of a neighborhood to obtain eye-witness accounts in the wake of a crime.

Conversely, canvas is a firm, closely woven cloth usually of linen, hemp, or cotton used for clothing and formerly much used for awnings, tents, and sails. Today, you may find canvas as a painter’s canvas for works of art or as the fabric that certain shoes, like topsiders and Converse Chuck Taylor’s are made from.

While the two words are homonyms and just one letter separates them, they have nothing in common.

Incorrect:

She slipped on a pair of canvass shoes.
The politician asked his aid to canvas prospective voters.

Correct:

She slipped on a pair of canvas shoes.
The politician asked his aid to canvass prospective voters.

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