Definition of colony in English:


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nounplural noun colonies

  • 1A country or area under the full or partial political control of another country, typically a distant one, and occupied by settlers from that country.

    ‘Japanese forces overran the French colony of Indo-China’
    • ‘Imperial self-assertion required first of all that Italy seize full control of the colonies it already possessed.’
    • ‘Britain obtained German colonies and full command of the European seas.’
    • ‘Canberra used the conflict to seize control of German colonies, in particular German New Guinea, the Solomons and other islands.’
    • ‘It controlled colonies from Spain to Turkey, from the Alps to the Sahara.’
    • ‘It was also faced with the task of repatriating some three million homecoming troops, and another three million civilians from colonies and occupied territories to Japan.’
    • ‘Without the navy they couldn't control their colonies, thus losing them to other world powers.’
    • ‘Korea was made a Japanese protectorate in 1905 and turned into a full colony of the growing Japanese empire in 1910.’
    • ‘Let us consider the two countries that the United States did occupy as colonies in the 20th century, Haiti and the Philippines.’
    • ‘After Portugal abandoned East Timor in 1975, Indonesia invaded and occupied the colony until rejected by the East Timorese voters in 1999.’
    • ‘The pace of political reform in the colony was sharply accelerated following a wave of disturbances precipitated by a rally of ex-soldiers in Accra in February 1948.’
    • ‘They took, and kept, control of the colony - a truly astonishing achievement at the time.’
    • ‘Spanish, English, and French troops were soon battling one another for control of the colony.’
    • ‘While Lisbon withdrew from Brazil in the mid-19th century, it continued to occupy its African colonies into the 1970s.’
    • ‘When the British took formal control of the colony, the Dutch populace, about 8,000 people, struggled to retain their cultural identity.’
    • ‘In 1947 Britain lost control of India, the colony that British prime minister Disraeli had once called the ‘jewel in the crown of England’.’
    • ‘Caesar, Augustus and their successors sought to ensure a steady supply of peasant soldiers for the legions by settling veterans in colonies outside Italy.’
    • ‘The attempt of the restored Spanish monarchy to regain control of her colonies by military force failed.’
    • ‘After losing this conflict, France relinquished to England control of its colonies, through the Treaty of Paris.’
    • ‘To all intents and purposes, Britain has assumed de facto control of the government of its former colony.’
    • ‘The Seven Years War brought momentous British successes in the colonies and in Europe.’
    • ‘One of the poorest sixteen countries in the world, this former Portuguese colony has few natural resources to provide an acceptable living standard to its population.’
    territory, possession, holding, dependency, province, dominion, protectorate, satellite, satellite state, settlement, outpost
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A group of people living in a colony, consisting of the original settlers and their descendants and successors.
      ‘the colony looked forward to fifty or more years of autonomy’
      • ‘German success in Europe in 1940 had orphaned French and Dutch colonies in the region and they became the focus of Japanese attention.’
      • ‘The accepted strategy of establishing colonies and controlling a lucrative trade to and from them never really worked for the Dutch in the Atlantic, at least not for long.’
      • ‘The territories thus depopulated were then occupied by well organized colonies from Germany.’
      • ‘The historical comparison with other colonies of settlement provides only partial insight into its history.’
      • ‘Ambitious space experts and political leaders planned lunar colonies, space stations and Mars expeditions.’
      • ‘As the colony settled down and developed, Clendinnen says, newer generations on both sides may have supposed Aboriginal life was always as it became in the early nineteenth century.’
      • ‘Froude invites his readers on a luxurious journey through the clubs, gardens, terraces, and mansions of colonial outposts and white settler colonies.’
      • ‘The German empire was formed by the land-based expansion of Prussia; colonies were primarily settlements within Europe.’
    2. 1.2the coloniesAll the foreign countries or areas formerly under British political control.
      ‘many poachers were exiled to the colonies’
      • ‘I'm beginning to forget what's so bad about British rule in the colonies.’
      • ‘A number of tables and graphs purport to show the great improvements which the British brought to the colonies.’
      • ‘They lack the moral grit that sent so much of the flower of Oxbridge out to the colonies during the heyday of the British Empire.’
      • ‘In fact, according to Sharp, colonial organizations had largely taken over control from the British in most of the colonies before a shot was fired.’
      • ‘The collection includes many objects from the colonies that celebrate the greatness of the British Empire.’
      • ‘Exile him to the colonies or the continent instead.’
      • ‘In the colonies, customs are even more difficult to define clearly.’
      • ‘The stamp showed a world map with the colonies and islands of the British Empire highlighted in red.’
      • ‘Yet scandal in the colonies was also enacted on the global stage of British imperialism.’
      • ‘By the mid-century much of the trade between the colonies was being carried in foreign ships, and largely to the benefit of foreign merchants.’
      • ‘This famous hotel dates back to 1891, when the British frequented it en route to the colonies, and it retains an air of the grandeur of those days.’
      • ‘This is the first modern study to look at drinking establishments in all the British mainland colonies instead of one city or colony.’
      • ‘The British Iron Act of 1750 prohibited steel manufacture in the colonies.’
      • ‘And I don't think I need to spell out to you how easy it was for the British to transport that notion to the colonies.’
      • ‘Little wonder that many women were reluctant to migrate to the colonies, just as some of their 19th century descendants resisted moving westward.’
      • ‘But those who came to the colonies to better themselves wanted to show off their success in the old ways.’
      • ‘In the 17th century the colonies were seen in Britain as receptacles for a surplus population.’
      • ‘After the second world war Britain trawled the colonies, mostly for workers to do low-paid jobs.’
      • ‘It was at this time that England was seeking to populate the colonies and Ireland's trouble gave them an opportunity to do so.’
      • ‘It was his angriest novel, an 844-page expose of the London society he returned to after a spell in the colonies.’
    3. 1.3the Coloniesmainly British
      another term for Thirteen Colonies
      ‘The war petered out, and the colonies gained their collective independence.’
      • ‘In 1787, delegates of the colonies adopted the United States Constitution.’
      • ‘The practice persisted in the United States even after the colonies declared their independence.’
      • ‘The loss of the colonies in America deprived the government of a major source of income, and his troops mutinied.’
      • ‘Long before he advocated formal independence he was teaching both Americans and their imperial masters that the attempt to rule the colonies from Britain was a folly.’
      • ‘While most of the captives were eventually ransomed, the raid stood as a clear reminder to all the colonies and to Britain as well of how dangerous was frontier life.’
      • ‘The migration of religious sects to America made the colonies a natural breeding ground for religious freedom, but only up to a point.’
      • ‘Beagles arrived in the United States before the colonies had become united.’
      • ‘While one of the main priorities of the colonies in the Americas was profit, the importance of Ireland was more strategic.’
      • ‘In the past generation a group of scholars has recast the history of the mainland colonies of British North America.’
      • ‘When the first English colonists settled in America, the colonies looked pretty much like England, too.’
      • ‘The goal in this is not to kill the people of South Carolina - after this war is over and Britain victorious, we must continue commerce with the colonies.’
      • ‘There was a single vision that united those who transformed thirteen British colonies into the United States of America.’
      • ‘At the outbreak of the fighting in North America it was widely expected that the colonies should be able to bear the brunt of it.’
      • ‘The issue of military service as a requirement rather than an option has been around since the colonies were fighting for their independence from Great Britain.’
      • ‘In the colonies American newspapers merged some of these terms with a careful classification of both racial differences and racial mixing.’
      • ‘Paine's articles during this period were often critical of British policy towards the colonies, but he did not yet advocate independence.’
      • ‘This occurred when practicing Anglicans were left behind in America as the British vacated the colonies, taking their priests with them.’
      • ‘King George wanted to forcefully impose British mercantilism on the colonies.’
      • ‘He then fought with the British against the colonies in the American Revolution, catching the eye of General George Washington.’
      • ‘By 1774, Virginia was taking the lead as the colonies began to organize and formulate a unified response to British rule.’
      • ‘The event, known as the Boston Tea Party, led to a series of British punitive measures which propelled the colonies towards war.’
      • ‘After all, the English have harbored equally ambivalent feelings ever since the 13 colonies became a nation.’
  • 2A group of people of one nationality or ethnic group living in a foreign city or country.

    ‘the British colony in New York’
    • ‘He mobilized the elite of the American colony in Paris into a volunteer committee, whose first task was to help stranded tourists obtain money.’
    • ‘The first and largest Irish colony in London could be found in St Giles in the Fields.’
    • ‘There was an important Italian colony in London, mostly of Florentines and Lucchese, dealing in silk and silk fabrics.’
    population, community
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1A place where a group of people with similar interests live together.
      ‘an artists' colony’
      • ‘Life would be so much easier if we lived in a nudist colony, where the way we really looked meant more to others than the clothes we wore.’
      • ‘It is all that remains of the leper colony which once occupied the site.’
      • ‘In its first phase it was no more than a trading station, which most likely provided the base for a colony of foreign merchants.’
      • ‘Using seldom-seen works and newly-uncovered information, Kurtz Lansing vividly captures the flavor of Old Lyme in the early years of the 20th century, when the house was the center of a vibrant artist colony.’
      • ‘During the first quarter of the twentieth century, Old Lyme was the center of a leading Impressionist art colony.’
      • ‘Soon, a whole host of artists began to settle in the tiny fishing port of Newlyn, forming the renowned artists' colony known as the 'Newlyn School'.’
      community, association, commune, settlement, quarter, district, section, ghetto
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2South Asian A housing development or residential community, especially one originally constructed by an employer for its workers.
      ‘a large housing colony has already been built’
      • ‘one of Jaipur's largest residential colonies’
  • 3Biology
    A community of animals or plants of one kind living close together or forming a physically connected structure.

    ‘a colony of seals’
    • ‘All you have to do is dive near any large seal colony and let the animals' natural curiosity and playfulness do the rest.’
    • ‘Thought to be extinct, a last colony of 18 animals was discovered in Wyoming in 1981, and now there are some 1,600 in the West.’
    • ‘About 11 colonies of the plant are found in two locations in the northern area of the city of Scotts Valley, along with other locally rare plant species.’
    • ‘Prairie dog support groups are trying to relocate whole colonies of the animals to get them away from hunters and out of the path of development, but it's a slow process.’
    • ‘On their breeding grounds, they nest close to penguin colonies where they feed on the eggs and the young.’
    • ‘Although not often perceived as an endangered plant, juniper colonies right across Britain are in massive decline.’
    • ‘Nests are located on the open ground, in small colonies, typically close to the water.’
    • ‘Human beings suffered terribly, as did songbird populations, old-growth forests, fur seal colonies, and fragile watersheds.’
    • ‘Mountain beavers live in small colonies, occupying areas with plentiful green vegetation and cover.’
    • ‘As time passes, more trees grow in the areas cleared by the ants, and the ant colony expands to occupy them.’
    • ‘Gradually, these grounded bats formed a captive colony that occupied a room in French's house for more than eight years.’
    • ‘The queen bee eats the workers' eggs to retain her control over the colony.’
    • ‘The agency has now submitted new evidence from other European countries which have successfully set up beaver colonies.’
    • ‘One of his biggest successes has been helping to establish a new colony of flamingoes at Auckland Zoo.’
    • ‘The colony's previous population of some 4,000 iguanas had plunged to about 1,500.’
    • ‘More specifically, there is a whole colony of mice living under the floorboards in my bedroom.’
    • ‘The island holds an important breeding population of grey seals and is also of ornithological interest for its colonies of breeding sea birds.’
    1. 3.1A group of fungi or bacteria grown from a single spore or cell on a culture medium.
      ‘They can culture and maintain colonies of the stem cells.’
      • ‘By growing a human stem cell colony from a single cell, researchers are one step closer to deriving a homogenous population of cells of a particular type.’
      • ‘We tested this by restreaking cells from colonies grown for 15-96 hours.’
      • ‘The cells from random spore colonies were examined microscopically.’
      • ‘Our models cover the process of forming a colony from a single cell.’
      • ‘These colonies were grown overnight in liquid culture before DNA was prepared.’
      • ‘Antibiotic resistant strains develop when successive colonies of a bacterium grow in a medium where small amounts of antibiotic are evident.’



/ˈkälənē/ /ˈkɑləni/


Late Middle English (denoting a settlement formed mainly of retired soldiers, acting as a garrison in newly conquered territory in the Roman Empire): from Latin colonia ‘settlement, farm’, from colonus ‘settler, farmer’, from colere ‘cultivate’.