The word canopy has several different meanings, mostly because canopies have a variety of uses. Basically the word implies some sort of covering, and is often made of fabric. It also suggests an element of protection. But canopies can also be purely decorative, or have a function other than protection. The list that follows gives several uses for the word--some of them perhaps unexpected. 1. The parachute canopy is probably the most exciting use of the word. The parachute canopy is the large fabric shell that opens above the parachuter's head when the parachute is deployed. It is usually made of nylon, a strong yet flexible material. While the parachute canopy is not directly protective in the sense of blocking something from touching the parachuter, it does protect the parachuter from plummeting too quickly towards the earth. 2. An outdoor canopy acts as a protective shelter. It can be freestanding or attached to a building. Made of strong fabric, metal, or plastic, an outdoor canopy can be used for all sorts of activities and purposes. Bus stops have canopies, and buildings often have canopies extending out from the entrance. Sometimes canopies can be found protecting school children from the sun during open air classes, or sheltering cars from the weather. Canopies might even cover an outdoor stage, or provide shade to an animal in a zoo. 3. A bed canopy is another type of covering. A bed canopy has the potential to really dress up a sleeping area. It can turn a simple mattress and frame into a bed fit for a king. There are different types of canopies for beds; the ring canopy, falling from a fixed point in the ceiling and often made of gauzy material- this is a popular choice for little girls, while the decorous four poster with luxurious velvet curtains and canopy is the typical picture of a royal bedstead. 4.Canopy can also be another word for sky. A 'canopy of stars' is a common poetic usage. This plays into the romantic notion of the sky as an arched protective covering over the earth. 5. Probably the most surprising use of the word is in the term crown canopy. This is the covering that is formed by the topmost branches of trees in a forest. The term usually refers specifically to a rainforest canopy. It is home to all sorts of animals, from squirrel monkeys to toucans and sloths. Do you know any other definitions for canopy?