a small box or jar, often one of a kitchen set, for holding tea, coffee, flour, and sugar.
Also called canister shot. case shot.
the part of a gas mask containing the neutralizing substances through which poisoned air is filtered.

1670–80; < Latin canistrum wicker basket < Greek kánastron, derivative of kánna reed (see cane), with -astron, variant of -tron suffix of instrument (probably from verbal derivatives, as stégastron covering, from stegázein to cover) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
canister (ˈkænɪstə)
1.  a container, usually made of metal, in which dry food, such as tea or coffee, is stored
2.  formerly
 a.  a type of shrapnel shell for firing from a cannon
 b.  canister shot, Also called: case shot the shot or shrapnel packed inside this
[C17: from Latin canistrum basket woven from reeds, from Greek kanastron, from kanna reed, cane1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

late 15c., "basket," from L. canistrum "wicker basket" for bread, fruit, flowers, etc., from Gk. kanystron "basket made from reed," from kanna (see cane). It came to mean "metal receptacle" (1711) through influence of can (n.). With a sense of canister shot, it is attested from 1801.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
The floating platform allows the researchers to collect data using the canister
  at various points all along the river.
What happens is that nitrous oxide, which is also in the canister and under
  high pressure, dissolves in the vodka.
The irony of all this complex electronics is that it all begins with a small
  canister which is where they get the protons from.
What caught almost everyone off-guard was the tear-gas canister that was
  detonated in the debating chamber.
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