can·​is·​ter | \ ˈka-nə-stər How to pronounce canister (audio) \
variants: or less commonly cannister

Definition of canister

1 : an often cylindrical container for holding a usually specified object or substance a film canister
2 : encased shot for close-range artillery fire
3 : a perforated metal box for gas masks with material to adsorb, filter, or detoxify airborne poisons and irritants

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Synonyms for canister


barrel, can, drum, tin

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Examples of canister in a Sentence

she put the store-bought cookies in a fancy canister to make them look homemade

Recent Examples on the Web

The entire crew was outfitted with bear-spray canisters. John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska’s early explorers were tough buzzards when it came to traveling and camping," 6 Aug. 2019 Teams of three or four extinguished freshly fired canisters with traffic cones and bottles of water, sprinting from one to the next even as police continued to shoot. Los Angeles Times, "Citywide strike erupts into night of chaos in Hong Kong," 5 Aug. 2019 Bear-proofing food: Bear canisters recommended for food storage in wilderness; rentals available, $5 for 3 nights, at park visitor centers. Tom Stienstra,, "In the central Sierra, Mitchell Peak stands out," 31 July 2019 As Richard Strauss strings swell and David Byrne narrates, the viewer is assaulted with surreal images of Triple Chaser canisters against colorful spots, swirls, and Mondrian rectangles. Tom Simonite, WIRED, "Using AI, and Film, to Track Tear Gas Use Against Civilians," 25 July 2019 With carbon dioxide in the Lunar Module reaching a dangerous level, the crew had to adapt lithium hydroxide canisters designed for the Command Module to work in the Lunar Module. Fox News, "Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise recounts ill-fated mission: 'We never got to the edge of the cliff'," 13 July 2019 But his office clarified there were six shipments that included a total of 32 canisters. Time, "US Suspends Low-Level Radioactive Waste Shipments to Nevada," 11 July 2019 The defect causes the vehicles to be unable to detect a malfunctioning canister purge valve, which can cause an excessive vacuum in the vehicle's fuel vapor management system. Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY, "Ford Focus recall: Automaker recalls 58,000 vehicles that could get deformed fuel tank," 9 July 2019 Most of the fireworks are designed to burn themselves completely, but some will still have canisters and containers—and then there are all those sparkler sticks. Eric Adams, Popular Mechanics, "How to Have Fun (and Stay Safe) During This Year's Fireworks-Filled Fourth," 1 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'canister.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of canister

1692, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for canister

Latin canistrum basket, from Greek kanastron wicker basket, from kanna reed — more at cane

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Dictionary Entries near canister

Canis Major

Canis Minor



can it



Statistics for canister

Last Updated

10 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for canister

The first known use of canister was in 1692

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More Definitions for canister



English Language Learners Definition of canister

: a container with a lid that is used for keeping dry products
: a plastic or metal container that is used for keeping a roll of film
: a metal case that contains gas or chemical substances and that bursts when it is fired from a gun


can·​is·​ter | \ ˈka-nə-stər How to pronounce canister (audio) \

Kids Definition of canister

: a small box or can for holding a dry product canisters of flour

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Comments on canister

What made you want to look up canister? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move or obtain by small maneuvers

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