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[kan-uh-ster] /ˈkæn ə stər/
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.
Origin of canister
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. 2015.
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Examples from the web for canister
  • 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.
  • In backward places a film canister full of green tea leaves is handy.
  • The bicycle pump pressurizes an air canister, which is connected by an air hose to a quick-connect valve on the rain barrel.
  • Once on deck, eager hands opened the plastic canister at its tail.
  • Months later, officials are still at a loss to explain how the oxygen canister could have caught fire.
  • The important thing to keep running was the fan that pumped air through a canister of sodium hydroxide.
  • The instrument, a canister whose lid gets squeezed under the higher pressures of deeper waters, notes the compression.
British Dictionary definitions for canister


a container, usually made of metal, in which dry food, such as tea or coffee, is stored
  1. a type of shrapnel shell for firing from a cannon
  2. Also called canister shot, case shot. the shot or shrapnel packed inside this
Word Origin
C17: from Latin canistrum basket woven from reeds, from Greek kanastron, from kanna reed, cane1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for canister

late 15c., "basket," from Latin canistrum "wicker basket" for bread, fruit, flowers, etc., from Greek kanystron "basket made from reed," from kanna (see cane (n.)). It came to mean "metal receptacle" (1711) through influence of can (n.). As short for canister shot, it is attested from 1801, so called for its casing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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