[dns-operations] Why are cnames called "canonical" names?

Mark E. Jeftovic markjr at easydns.com
Fri Apr 10 03:42:46 UTC 2015

I blame google for the existence of this entire thread.

When I type "define:canonical" into google, it only displays the those
"Eucharistic" themed definitions, not the mundane synonyms (such as
those ones Paul cited). Also had I typed "canonical" on it's own
(without "define:") I would have seen the wikipedia page for "canonical"


which says

Canonical is the adjective for canon, literally a 'rule', and has come
to mean also 'standard', 'archetypal', 'typical', or 'unique
distinguished exemplar'.

Which then makes a lot more sense for this term.

Thanks to all who chimed in, I also understand what Evan meant when it
pointed out the distinction of what calling it "ALIAS" would have meant.

I'm still happy to have found out about the origins of the word in a
technology context that was sent to me offlist, about it being in the
K&R C book.

- mark

Paul Vixie wrote:
> Mark E. Jeftovic wrote:
>> ...
>> The question isn't "which side of a cname is the canonical name", the
>> question is "why did they decide to call it 'canonical'" (as opposed to
>> calling it some other word than 'canonical' that meant exactly the same
>> thing as what 'canonical' means.
> http://www.thesaurus.net/canonical says:
>> Synonyms:
>> regular (adjective)
>> accustomed,	average,	chronic,	common,	commonplace,	constant,	continual, conventional,	customary,	cyclical,	epochal,	everyday,	familiar,	frequent, general,	habitual,	metronomic,	monotonous,	mundane,	normal,	ordinary, orthodox,	periodic,	predominating,	prevailing,	recurrent,	regular,	rhythmic, routine,	standard,	steady,	stock,	traditional,	universal,	usual.
>> ritualistic (adjective)
>> Eucharistic,	ceremonial,	liturgical,	ritual,	ritualistic,	sacramental.
> i don't like any of those more than "canonical" for this meaning. what do you have in mind?

Mark E. Jeftovic <markjr at easydns.com>
Founder & CEO, easyDNS Technologies Inc.
+1-(416)-535-8672 ext 225
Read my blog: http://markable.com

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