can·​teen | \kan-ˈtēn \

Definition of canteen 

1a : a portable chest with compartments for carrying bottles or for cooking and eating utensils

b : a flask for carrying liquids (as on a hike)

c : mess kit

d British : a chest for storing flatware

2a : a bar at a military post or camp

b : a general store at a military post : exchange

c : an establishment that serves as an informal social club (as for soldiers or a community's teenagers)

d : a small cafeteria or snack bar

Examples of canteen in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Indonesian dishes at Beetle Cafe on the Ave transport you to a Jakarta canteen, and at a student budget. Shirley Qiu, The Seattle Times, "Finding comfort and classic Indonesian dishes at Seattle’s Beetle Cafe," 27 Aug. 2018 Its chef, Armand Amal, is building a small culinary empire in Arles under Hoffmann’s patronage—with a casual canteen at Luma and restaurants at her two boutique hotels in town. Jay Cheshes, WSJ, "Maja Hoffmann’s Cultural Complex Is Poised to Transform This French City," 21 Aug. 2018 The last place serving food was the canteen at the local hospital, which shuttered in 2010. Michael Meyer, New York Times, "A Pittsburgh Area Restaurant That Trades Fussy for Fun," 7 July 2018 The Union Station canteen was not the only place in Indianapolis for the Armed Forces. Dawn Mitchell, Indianapolis Star, "Union Station canteen was 'home away from home' for fighting forces," 30 Mar. 2018 Meanwhile, rising unemployment and the rolling back of assistance programs have hurt northerners like Suwanna Khanadham, who owns a canteen in Chiang Mai selling khao soi, or curry noodle soup. Time, "Thailand’s Leader Promised to Restore Democracy. Instead He's Tightening His Grip," 21 June 2018 Together, the two companies have created six items — three 16-ounce canteens and three 16-ounce tumblers — featuring three different motifs. Olivia Harrison,, "Rifle Paper Co.'s Iconic Designs Are Coming To Water Bottles & Tumblers," 12 June 2018 Cuba’s socialist government pays for his education but the stipend for living expenses is just $4 a month, enough for ten meals at the university canteen. The Economist, "Cuba bids goodbye to the revolutionary generation," 12 Apr. 2018 From here Chan commutes 40 minutes to the Four Seasons by subway, wobbling into the staff canteen around 9 am for rice porridge and news. Casey Quackenbush / Hong Kong, Time, "'We're Not Educated.' The Untold Story of Lung King Heen, the World's First Michelin Three-Star Chinese Restaurant," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'canteen.' 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 canteen

1737, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for canteen

French cantine bottle case, sutler's shop, from Italian cantina wine cellar, probably from canto corner, from Latin canthus iron tire — more at cant

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Dictionary Entries near canteen


cant body

cant dog


cante hondo



Statistics for canteen

Last Updated

26 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for canteen

The first known use of canteen was in 1737

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English Language Learners Definition of canteen

: a store in a camp, school, etc., in which food, drinks, and small supplies are sold

: a place where drinks and entertainment are provided for soldiers at a military base or camp

: a place where food is served in a factory, school, etc.


can·​teen | \kan-ˈtēn \

Kids Definition of canteen

1 : a store (as in a camp or factory) in which food, drinks, and small supplies are sold

2 : a place of recreation and entertainment for people in military service

3 : a small container for carrying water or another liquid a hiker's canteen

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More from Merriam-Webster on canteen

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with canteen

Spanish Central: Translation of canteen

Nglish: Translation of canteen for Spanish Speakers

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a nest or breeding place

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