contain

verb
con·​tain | \ kən-ˈtān How to pronounce contain (audio) \
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 How to pronounce contain (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for contain

Synonyms

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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 Cordileone said the document being drafted by the doctrine committee may contain some guidelines for bishops but will not seek to strip their decision-making authority. BostonGlobe.com, "US Catholic bishops may press Biden to stop receiving Communion," 28 Apr. 2021 Per BBC News, ancient fingerprints are not uncommon finds at archaeological sites, which often contain a plethora of pottery. Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, "5,000-Year-Old Fingerprint Found on Pottery Shard Unearthed in Scotland," 28 Apr. 2021 Cordileone said the document being drafted by the doctrine committee may contain some guidelines for bishops but will not seek to strip their decision-making authority. David Crary, chicagotribune.com, "US Catholic bishops may press President Biden and other politicians to stop taking Communion over abortion rights," 28 Apr. 2021 One way is through applied topical insect repellent, the most (and arguably only) effective of which contain DEET. Larry Olmsted, Forbes, "Get Ready For A New Lyme Disease Season-With No Vaccine Available," 28 Apr. 2021 Cordileone said the document being drafted by the doctrine committee may contain some guidelines for bishops but will not seek to strip their decision-making authority. David Crary, Star Tribune, "US Catholic bishops may press Biden to stop taking Communion," 28 Apr. 2021 While some of the posts in question contain potentially misleading information, others simply document the scale of India’s disastrous outbreak or express frustration with the country’s leaders. Washington Post, "India orders Twitter to remove tweets critical of government’s coronavirus response," 26 Apr. 2021 The Collected Works of Jim Morrison: Poetry, Journals, Transcripts, and Lyrics is created in collaboration with the late Doors icon's estate, and will contain almost 600 pages of writings. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, "Jim Morrison Book of Poetry, Lyrics & More Writings to Release This Summer," 26 Apr. 2021 American troops are still spread out in a constellation of around a dozen bases, most of which contain small groups of Special Operations forces advising the Afghan military. New York Times, "U.S. Military Begins Final Withdrawal From Afghanistan," 25 Apr. 2021

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 conteynen, borrowed from Anglo-French cunteign-, cunteyn-, present tense stem of contenir, cuntenir, going back (with conjugation change) to Latin continēre "to hold together, restrain, have as contents," from con- con- + tenēre "to hold, occupy, possess" — more at tenant entry 1

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Time Traveler for contain

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for contain

Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Contain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contain. Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for contain

contain

verb

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

contain

verb
con·​tain | \ kən-ˈtān How to pronounce contain (audio) \
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.

Comments on contain

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