can 2 (kăn)
1. A usually cylindrical metal container.
a. An airtight container, usually made of tin-coated iron, in which foods or beverages are preserved.
b. The contents of such a container: ate a can of beans.
3. Slang A jail or prison.
4. Slang A toilet or restroom.
5. Slang The buttocks.
6. Slang A naval destroyer.
v. canned, can·ning, cans
1. To seal in an airtight container for future use; preserve: canning peaches.
2. Slang To make a recording of: can the audience's applause for a TV comedy show.
a. To end the employment of; fire. See Synonyms at dismiss.
b. To put an end or stop to: canned the TV show after one season; told the students to can the chatter.
To solicit cash donations for a charity or other organization such as a club or amateur sports team by holding out a can or other container in a public place.
can of corn Sports
Something that is easily accomplished, especially a routine catch of a fly ball in baseball.
can of worms
A complex or difficult problem.
in the can
Completed and ready for release, as a film or scene of a film.
[Middle English canne, a water container, from Old English.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.