Idiom – Canary In The Coal Mine

English Idiom – Canary in the coal mine or Canary in a coal mine.

Meaning – Someone or something that is an early warning for trouble or danger. An early indicator of greater danger due to a decline in health or welfare of something related. Something that is sensitive to situations that may indicate danger.

This idiom relates to the caged birds (canaries) that miners would carry into the mines. Dangerous gases in the mines (such as carbon monoxide) would kill the canaries before the miners, therefore providing an advance warning to the miners.


  • “Honeybee colony die-offs are likely to be a canary in the coalmine that is mirrored by many wild pollinator species. The attention on honeybees may help raise awareness, but action must also be directed towards our threatened species…” (Source: LaboratoryEquipment)

In The News:

Why Black workers are the canary in the coal mine for the U.S. economy


  • Is there an idiom like this in your country?

As Featured On Top 10 Animal Idioms!

What is an idiom?

An idiom is a word or phrase that is not taken literally.  An idiom is an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its individual words, but has a separate meaning of its own.

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