n. pl. col·o·nies
a. A group of emigrants or their descendants who settle in a distant territory but remain subject to or closely associated with the parent country.
b. A territory thus settled.
2. A region politically controlled by a distant country; a dependency.
a. A group of people with the same interests or ethnic origin concentrated in a particular area: the American colony in Paris.
b. The area occupied by such a group.
4. Colonies The British colonies that became the original 13 states of the United States.
5. A group of people who have been institutionalized in a relatively remote area: an island penal colony.
6. A group of the same kind of animals, plants, or one-celled organisms living or growing together.
7. A visible growth of microorganisms, usually in a solid or semisolid nutrient medium.
[Middle English colonie, from Latin colōnia, from colōnus, settler, from colere, to cultivate; see kwel-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.