Definition of can noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//kæn//
    ; NAmE NAmE//kæn//
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  1. 1   (British English also tin) [countable] a metal container in which food and drink is sold a can of beans a beer can In North American Englishcan is the usual word used for both food and drink. In British Englishcan is always used for drink, but tin or can can be used for food and other substances such as paint or varnish.
  2. 2  [countable] the amount contained in a can We drank a can of Coke each.
  3. 3 [countable] a metal or plastic container for holding or carrying liquids an oil can a watering can
  4. 4 [countable] a metal container in which liquids are kept under pressure and let out in a fine spray when you press a button on the lid a can of hairspray
  5. 5the can [singular] (North American English, slang) prison
  6. 6the can [singular] (North American English, slang) the toilet
  7. Word OriginOld English canne, related to Dutch kan and German Kanne; either of Germanic origin or from late Latin canna.Extra examples He filled a can with water from the pump. He was filling a jerry can with petrol from the pump. She drained her can of beer and threw it away. She sipped from a can of Coke. The floor was littered with empty food cans. This special type of milk comes in a can. We keep the hoses and watering cans in the shed at the end of the garden. We opened a can of sardines for lunch. a 200 g can of tuna cans of oil a can of beans/​beer/​paintIdioms (informal) (especially of filmed or recorded material) to be completed and ready for use See related entries: Making films (informal) if you open up a can of worms, you start doing something that will cause a lot of problems and be very difficult
    carry the can (for somebody/something)
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    (British English, informal) to accept the blame for something, especially when it is not your fault
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: can