1

can

play
verb \kən, ˈkan also ˈken; dialectal ˈkin\

Definition of can

past

could

play \kəd, ˈku̇d\;
present singular & plural

can

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 obsolete :  know, understand

  3. 2 archaic :  to be able to do, make, or accomplish

  4. intransitive verb
  5. archaic :  to have knowledge or skill

  6. auxiliary verb
  7. 1a :  know how to She can read.b :  be physically or mentally able to He can lift 200 pounds.c —used to indicate possibility Do you think he can still be alive? Those things can happen. ; sometimes used interchangeably with mayd :  be permitted by conscience or feeling to can hardly blame here :  be made possible or probable by circumstances to he can hardly have meant thatf :  be inherently able or designed to everything that money can buyg :  be logically or axiologically able to 2 + 2 can also be written 3 + 1.h :  be enabled by law, agreement, or custom to Congress can declare war.

  8. 2 :  have permission to —used interchangeably with may You can go now if you like.

can vs. may

Can and may are most frequently interchangeable in uses denoting possibility; because the possibility of one's doing something may depend on another's acquiescence, they have also become interchangeable in the sense denoting permission. The use of can to ask or grant permission has been common since the 19th century and is well established, although some commentators feel may is more appropriate in formal contexts. May is relatively rare in negative constructions (mayn't is not common); cannot and can't are usual in such contexts.

Origin and Etymology of can

Middle English (1st & 3rd singular present indicative), from Old English; akin to Old High German kan (1st & 3rd singular present indicative) know, am able, Old English cnāwan to know — more at know


2

can

play
noun \ˈkan\

Definition of can

plural

cans

  1. 1 :  a usually cylindrical receptacle:a :  a vessel for holding liquids; specifically :  a drinking vessel … in his hand did bear a boozing can … — Edmund Spenserb :  a usually metal typically cylindrical receptacle usually with an open top, often with a removable cover, and sometimes with a spout or side handles (as for holding liquid or trash)c :  a container (as of tinplate) in which products (such as perishable foods) are hermetically sealed for preservation until use a can of beansd :  a jar for packing or preserving fruit or vegetablese :  a recessed lighting fixture Augment natural light with recessed cans in the ceiling, sconces on side walls, or a table lamp on a shelf … — Jill Connors

  2. 2 :  jail The cops threw him in the can.

  3. 3a :  toilet sitting on the canb :  bathroom 1 He locked himself in the can and wouldn't come out.

  4. 4 :  buttocks He needs a kick in the can.

  5. 5 :  destroyer 2 served on a can during the battle

canful

play \ˈkan-ˌfu̇l\ noun

in the can

  1. of a film or videotape :  completed and ready for release

Examples of can in a Sentence

  1. He ate the whole can of beans.

  2. the shelter stores huge cans of water for an emergency

Origin and Etymology of can

Middle English canne, from Old English; akin to Old High German channa


3

can

play
verb \ˈkan\

Definition of can

canned

;

canning

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1a :  to put in a can :  preserve by sealing in airtight cans or jars can tomatoesb :  to hit (a golf shot) into the cupc :  to hit (a shot) in basketball

  3. 2 :  to discharge from employment got canned for being late so often

  4. 3 slang :  to put a stop or end to were told to can the chatter

canner

noun

First Known Use of can

1859


4

can

abbreviation

Definition of can

  1. 1 canceled; cancellation

  2. 2 cannon

  3. 3 canto


Can

abbreviation
variants: or

Canad

Definition of Can

  1. Canada; Canadian


CAN Defined for English Language Learners

can

play
noun

Definition of can for English Language Learners

  • : a closed metal container that is usually shaped like a cylinder and that holds food or drink

  • : the food or drink that is in a can

  • : a metal or plastic container that has a removable top and that is used for holding liquid, trash, etc.


CAN Defined for Kids

1

can

play
helping verb \kən, ˈkan\

Definition of can for Students

past

could

\kəd, ˈku̇d\;
present singular and plural

can

  1. 1 :  know how to We can read.

  2. 2 :  be able to I can hear you.

  3. 3 :  be permitted by conscience or feeling to They can hardly blame me.

  4. 4 :  have permission to You can go now.

  5. 5 :  to be possible Can he still be alive?


2

can

play
noun \ˈkan\

Definition of can for Students

  1. 1 :  a metal container usually shaped like a cylinder a soda can

  2. 2 :  the contents of a can Add a can of tomatoes.


3

can

play
verb \ˈkan\

Definition of can for Students

canned

;

canning

  1. :  to prepare for later use by sealing in an airtight can or jar Let's can peaches for winter.



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