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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:
water can.
a drinking cup; tankard.
a metal or plastic container for holding film on cores or reels.
Slang: Usually Vulgar. toilet; bathroom.
Slang. jail:
He’s been in the can for a week.
Slang: Sometimes Vulgar. buttocks.
Military Slang.

a depth charge.
a destroyer.

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.
Contemporary Examples

Why Everyone Should Copy Amsterdam’s Beer-for-Work Scheme Nadette De Visser January 11, 2014
Penn State Loses First Paterno-Less Game November 11, 2011
A Serial Killer on the Loose in Los Angeles Christine Pelisek November 11, 2010
A Good Word for the Big Gulp Ban David Frum June 3, 2012
London’s Islamic Vigilantes Plead Guilty Nico Hines November 11, 2013

Historical Examples

Cobb’s Bill-of-Fare Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb
Land of the Burnt Thigh Edith Eudora Kohl
Rick and Ruddy Howard R. Garis
Lectures in Navigation Ernest Gallaudet Draper
The Modern Railroad Edward Hungerford

plural noun
an informal name for headphones
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

(of a film, piece of music, etc) having been recorded, processed, edited, etc
(informal) arranged or agreed: the contract is almost 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

A woman’s breasts; tits: that chanteuse with the huge cans (1950s+)
Earphones worn over the ears (1920s+)

A toilet; john •Said to be a shortening of pisscan (1900+)
The buttocks; rump; ass: And that’s when I asked her about her fat can (1910+)
A jail or prison; cell (1910+)
A destroyer; tin can (1930s+ Navy)
A hot rod (1950s+ Hot rodders)
An ounce of marijuana or other narcotic (1930s+ Narcotics)
canvasback duck: I know there are a lot of hunters here this weekend to try for cans (1990s+)

To discharge an employee; fire: He is not the first commentator to be canned by an editor (1905+)
To stop; cease, esp some objectionable behavior •Usu a stern command: Let’s can the noise (1906+)
: They caught him and canned him for two weeks
To score by throwing a basket: Shaq canned another 20-footer (1980s+ Basketball)

cancer (constellation)

can do with
can of worms


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