Definition of contain verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

      

    contain

     verb
    verb
    BrE BrE//kənˈteɪn//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//kənˈteɪn//
     
    (not used in the progressive tenses)Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they contain
    BrE BrE//kənˈteɪn//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//kənˈteɪn//
     
    he / she / it contains
    BrE BrE//kənˈteɪnz//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//kənˈteɪnz//
     
    past simple contained
    BrE BrE//kənˈteɪnd//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//kənˈteɪnd//
     
    past participle contained
    BrE BrE//kənˈteɪnd//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//kənˈteɪnd//
     
    past simple containing
    BrE BrE//kənˈteɪnɪŋ//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//kənˈteɪnɪŋ//
     
    past participle containing
    BrE BrE//kənˈteɪnɪŋ//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//kənˈteɪnɪŋ//
     
     
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  1. 1  contain something if something contains something else, it has that thing inside it or as part of it This drink doesn't contain any alcohol. Her statement contained one or two inaccuracies. a brown envelope containing dollar bills The bottle contains (= can hold) two litres.
  2. 2to keep your feelings under control synonym restrain contain something She was unable to contain her excitement. contain yourself I was so furious I just couldn't contain myself (= I had to express my feelings).
  3. 3contain something to prevent something harmful from spreading or getting worse to contain an epidemic Government forces have failed to contain the rebellion.
  4. Word Origin Middle English: from Old French contenir, from Latin continere, from con- ‘altogether’ + tenere ‘to hold’.Extra examples He handed over a brown envelope containing a hundred dollar bills. He introduced repressive measures to contain the violence. I was so furious I just couldn’t contain myself. Overall planning policies are designed to contain the growth of urban sprawl. She could hardly contain her excitement. The bottle contains two litres. This drink doesn’t contain any alcohol.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: contain