\ kəd, ˈku̇d How to pronounce could (audio) \

Definition of could

past tense of can

used in auxiliary function in the pastWe found we could go. , in the past conditionalWe said we would go if we could. , and as an alternative to can suggesting less force or certainty or as a polite form in the presentIf you could come, we would be pleased.

First Known Use of could

13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for could

Middle English couthe, coude, from Old English cūthe; akin to Old High German konda could

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about could

Time Traveler for could

Time Traveler

The first known use of could was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for could

Cite this Entry

“Could.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/could. Accessed 29 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for could


\ kəd How to pronounce could (audio) , ˈku̇d \

Kids Definition of could

past tense of can

1 used as a helping verb in the pastHer daughter could read at the age of five.
2 used as a polite form instead of canCould you help me?
3 used to say something is possibleYou could win.You could have been hurt.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on could

Spanish Central: Translation of could

Nglish: Translation of could for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of could for Arabic Speakers

Comments on could

What made you want to look up could? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to assert without proof or before proving

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

January 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • image1642096650
  • Which is a synonym of bonhomie?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

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!