early 14c., "bed of a stream of water," from Old French chanel "bed of a waterway; tube, pipe, gutter," from Latin canalis "groove, channel, waterpipe" (see canal). The English word was given a broader, figurative sense by 1530s: "that by which something passes or is transmitted" (in reference to information, commerce, etc.); the meaning "circuit for telegraph communication" (1848) probably led to that of "band of frequency for radio or TV signals" (1928). Also "part of a sea making a passageway between land masses, a large strait" (1550s).
1590s, "wear or cut channels in," from channel (n.). The meaning "convey in a channel" is from 1640s. Related: Channeled; channeling.
updated on November 25, 2022
Dictionary entries near channel