[koo d; unstressed kuh d] /kʊd; unstressed kəd/
a simple past tense of 1 .
(used to express possibility):
I wonder who that could be at the door. That couldn’t be true.
(used to express conditional possibility or ability):
You could do it if you tried.
(used in making polite requests):
Could you open the door for me, please?
(used in asking for permission):
Could I borrow your pen?
(used in offering suggestions or advice):
You could write and ask for more information. You could at least have called me.
[kan; unstressed kuh n] /kæn; unstressed kən/
auxiliary verb, present singular 1st person can, 2nd can or (Archaic) canst, 3rd can, present plural can; past singular 1st person could, 2nd could or (Archaic) couldst, 3rd could, past plural could.
to be able to; have the ability, power, or skill to:
She can solve the problem easily, I’m sure.
to know how to:
He can play chess, although he’s not particularly good at it.
to have the power or means to:
A dictator can impose his will on the people.
to have the right or qualifications to:
He can change whatever he wishes in the script.
may; have permission to:
Can I speak to you for a moment?
to have the possibility:
A coin can land on either side.
verb (used with or without object), present singular 1st person can, 2nd can or (Archaic) canst, 3rd can, present plural can; past singular 1st person could, 2nd could or (Archaic) couldst, 3rd could, past plural could; imperative can; infinitive can; past participle could; present participle cunning.
Obsolete. to know.
a sealed container for food, beverages, etc., as of aluminum, sheet iron coated with tin, or other metal:
a can of soup.
a receptacle for garbage, ashes, etc.:
a trash can.
a bucket, pail, or other container for holding or carrying liquids:
a drinking cup; tankard.
a metal or plastic container for holding film on cores or reels.
Slang: Usually Vulgar. toilet; bathroom.
He’s been in the can for a week.
Slang: Sometimes Vulgar. .
verb (used with object), canned, canning.
to preserve by sealing in a can, jar, etc.
Slang. to dismiss; fire.
Slang. to throw (something) away.
Slang. to put a stop to:
Can that noise!
to record, as on film or tape.
carry the can, British and Canadian Slang. to take the responsibility.
in the can, recorded on film; completed:
The movie is in the can and ready for release.
verb takes an infinitive without to or an implied infinitive
used as an auxiliary to make the past tense of can1
used as an auxiliary, esp in polite requests or in conditional sentences, to make the subjunctive mood of can1 could I see you tonight?, she’d telephone if she could
used as an auxiliary to indicate suggestion of a course of action: you could take the car tomorrow if it’s raining
(often foll by well) used as an auxiliary to indicate a possibility: he could well be a spy
/kæn; unstressed kən/
verb (intransitive) (past) could takes an infinitive without to or an implied infinitive
used as an auxiliary to indicate ability, skill, or fitness to perform a task: I can run a mile in under four minutes
used as an auxiliary to indicate permission or the right to something: can I have a drink?
used as an auxiliary to indicate knowledge of how to do something: he can speak three languages fluently
used as an auxiliary to indicate the possibility, opportunity, or likelihood: my trainer says I can win the race if I really work hard
a container, esp for liquids, usually of thin sheet metal: a petrol can, beer can
another name (esp US) for tin (sense 2)
Also called canful. the contents of a can or the amount a can will hold
a slang word for prison
(US & Canadian) a slang word for toilet or buttocks See toilet
(US, navy) a slang word for destroyer
(navy, slang) a depth charge
a shallow cylindrical metal container of varying size used for storing and handling film
(informal) can of worms, a complicated problem
carry the can, See carry (sense 37)
in the can
verb cans, canning, canned
to put (food, etc) into a can or cans; preserve in a can
(transitive) (US, slang) to dismiss from a job
(transitive) (US, informal) to stop (doing something annoying or making an annoying noise) (esp in the phrase can it!)
(transitive) (informal) to reject or discard
Old English cuðe, past tense of cunnan “to be able” (see can (v.1)); ending changed 14c. to standard English -d(e). The excrescent -l- was added 15c.-16c. on model of would, should, where it is historical.
Old English 1st & 3rd person singular present indicative of cunnan “know, have power to, be able,” (also “to have carnal knowledge”), from Proto-Germanic *kunnan “to be mentally able, to have learned” (cf. Old Norse kenna “to know, make known,” Old Frisian kanna “to recognize, admit,” German kennen “to know,” Gothic kannjan “to make known”), from PIE root *gno- (see know).
Absorbing the third sense of “to know,” that of “to know how to do something” (in addition to “to know as a fact” and “to be acquainted with” something or someone). An Old English preterite-present verb, its original past participle, couth, survived only in its negation (see uncouth), but cf. could. The present participle has spun off as cunning.
“to put up in cans,” 1860, from can (n.1). Sense of “to fire an employee” is from 1905. Related: Canned; canning.
Old English canne “a cup, container,” from Proto-Germanic *kanna (cf. Old Saxon, Old Norse, Swedish kanna, Middle Dutch kanne, Dutch kan, Old High German channa, German Kanne). Probably an early borrowing from Late Latin canna “container, vessel,” from Latin canna “reed,” also “reed pipe, small boat;” but the sense evolution is difficult.
Modern “air-tight vessel of tinned iron” is from 1867 (can-opener is from 1877). Slang meaning “toilet” is c.1900, said to be a shortening of piss-can. Meaning “buttocks” is from c.1910.
ash can, get a can on, in the can, kicking can, shitcan, tie a can on someone, tin can
also see under:
modifier Suggesting, often lamenting, what might have been: other coulda-been sad-sack tales (1990s+)
- Could eat a horse
verb phrase To be extremely hungry (1936+)
- Could murder
verb phrase To want to cause harm: could murder him for ordering that (1935+)
- Could not care less
verb phrase One simply does not care; one is sublimely indifferent •In a curious development, the original British negative form has been changed to affirmative by many US speakers, without change of meaning; such contradiction is more common in slang than in standard speech: I couldn’t care less if you like me or not/ I […]