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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for canister


barrel, can, drum, tin

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Three air sampling canisters have been placed at the Winton Terrace Recreation Center, the firehouse on Circle Road and Winton Hills Academy for residents to capture the area during episodes of serious odors. Cameron Knight,, "Winton Terrace air quality: No health risks detected, more work to be done," 11 June 2019 All the sailors in the Cup carry a knife to cut themselves free of entanglements, along with an emergency oxygen canister that contains about a dozen gulps of air. Luke O'brien, Town & Country, "Hot Pursuit," 1 Sep. 2013 In Marseille, an elderly woman died after being hit by a tear-gas canister at her window in Marseille. Noemie Bisserbe, WSJ, "France’s Macron, Astride the Globe, Overlooked Swelling Anger at Home," 7 Dec. 2018 Police, who in the past have cracked down on opposition gatherings, set off a tear gas canister to disperse the government supporters and formed a line to separate the two groups. Christopher Torchia, The Seattle Times, "Red Cross ready to aid Venezuela, warns against politics," 29 Mar. 2019 Stalls sold ice cream, smoothies, nuts and sandwiches, even as ambulances screamed past ferrying the injured and as tear gas canisters were dropped from drones., "‘I don’t want this life’: 15 Palestinians shot dead by Israeli army on Gaza border," 30 Mar. 2018 Instead of a canister beside the stovetop to hold your spatulas and spoons, move them to a drawer. Jessica Dailey, Good Housekeeping, "X-tra Counter Space," 11 Feb. 2019 The videos show hundreds of metal tear-gas canisters raining on peaceful protests, elderly women punched in the face, children beaten and arrested, and even a villager who’s face was literally removed by a gas can at point blank range. Vic Mensa, Time, "Vic Mensa: What Palestine Taught Me About American Racism," 12 Jan. 2018 On Wednesday, 24 Amazon employees working in a Robbinsville Township, New Jersey, warehouse were sent to five different area hospitals after a 9oz canister of bear spray was deployed. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "Amazon “automated machine” punctures bear spray can, 24 employees hospitalized," 6 Dec. 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about canister

Dictionary Entries near canister

Canis Major

Canis Minor



can it



Statistics for canister

Last Updated

15 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for canister

The first known use of canister was in 1692

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


a device or gadget

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!