con·tain | \kən-ˈtān \
contained; containing; contains

Definition of contain 

transitive verb

1 : to keep within limits: such as

a : restrain, control could hardly contain her enthusiasm

b : check, halt contain the spread of a deadly disease Firefighters contained the wildfire.

c : to follow successfully a policy of containment toward efforts to contain Communism

d : to prevent (an enemy or opponent) from advancing or from making a successful attack

2a : to have within : hold The box contains old letters.

b : comprise, include The bill contains several new clauses.

3a : to be divisible by usually without a remainder

b : enclose, bound

intransitive verb

: to restrain oneself

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Other Words from contain

containable \kən-ˈtā-nə-bəl \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for contain

contain, hold, accommodate mean to have or be capable of having within. contain implies the actual presence of a specified substance or quantity within something. the can contains a quart of oil hold implies the capacity of containing or the usual or permanent function of containing or keeping. the bookcase will hold all my textbooks accommodate stresses holding without crowding or inconvenience. the hall can accommodate 500 people

Examples of contain in a Sentence

The room was barely big enough to contain everyone who came to the meeting. The book contains over 200 recipes. The article contains information on how to plan your retirement. foods that contain a high level of fat The movie contains something for both children and adults. State health officials have succeeded in containing the virus.
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Recent Examples on the Web

British authorities investigating the poisoning of two people have found a bottle believed to have contained Novichok, a nerve agent that was also used against a former Russian spy and his daughter, the Metropolitan Police said Friday. NBC News, "British police determine source of nerve agent that poisoned couple," 13 July 2018 President Trump has urged the Saudis to pump more oil to contain rising prices. David Koenig, The Christian Science Monitor, "US expected to surpass Saudi Arabia, Russia as world's top oil producer," 12 July 2018 President Donald Trump has urged the Saudis to pump more oil to contain rising prices. David Koenig, Anchorage Daily News, "US soon to leapfrog Saudis, Russia as top oil producer," 12 July 2018 Authorities said the fire has consumed around 45 acres in the Wildwood Canyon area and there is no estimate as to when it will be contained. Andy Nguyen,, "Brush fire threatens homes in Burbank, prompts mandatory evacuations," 7 July 2018 Brazeau said the Army told him the casket will contain the remains found at the crash site, the medals Canty earned and a uniform. David Owens,, "74 Years Later, Connecticut Airman Shot Down Over France In WW II To Get Proper Burial," 7 July 2018 If approved in its current form, the development will contain 13 one-bedroom apartments, seven two-bedrooms units and five three-bedroom apartments. Steve Sadin,, "Affordable housing development gets thumbs up from Deerfield Plan Commission," 2 July 2018 The bases will contain tent camps for the migrant families, with Goodfellow housing unaccompanied children, NPR reported. Shannon Najmabadi And Matthew Choi, star-telegram, "Border official says agency not referring immigrant families for prosecution," 25 June 2018 When finished, the site will contain nearly 11,000 homes and apartments. Kellen Browning And Claire Morgan, sacbee, "Folsom site contaminated by jet fuel to be cleaned up, paving way for park and nearby housing," 25 June 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for contain

Middle English conteinen, from Anglo-French cunteign-, cuntyen-, stem of cuntenir, from Latin continēre to hold together, hold in, contain, from com- + tenēre to hold — more at thin

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Statistics for contain

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for contain

The first known use of contain was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for contain



English Language Learners Definition of contain

: to have (something) inside

: to have or include (something)

: to keep (something) from spreading : to keep (something) within limits


con·tain | \kən-ˈtān \
contained; containing

Kids Definition of contain

1 : to have within : hold The box contained some old books.

2 : to consist of or include The building contains classrooms.

3 : to keep within limits : restrain, check The fire was contained. I tried to contain my anger.

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More from Merriam-Webster on contain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for contain

Spanish Central: Translation of contain

Nglish: Translation of contain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contain for Arabic Speakers

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