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[kan-teen] /kænˈtin/
a small container used especially by soldiers and hikers for carrying water or other liquids.
a general store and cafeteria at a military base.
a place where free entertainment is provided for military personnel.
a place, as in a factory, school, or summer camp, where refreshments and sometimes personal supplies are sold.
a recreation center or social club, especially for teenagers.
a place set up to dispense food during an emergency.
a snack bar.
British. a box or chest for cutlery and other table utensils.
Origin of canteen
1730-40; < French cantine < Italian cantina cellar, perhaps derivative of canto corner (see cant2) with -ina -ine1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for canteen
  • Cans and bottled drinks are not permitted on the river, so transfer any beverages into a re-usable water bottle or canteen.
  • They cannot smoke or buy personal items or snacks from the prison canteen.
  • They are taught to walk along school corridors in hushed crocodiles, and to avoid shouting or yelling in the canteen.
  • Bring us a cold, sweaty canteen of talent when we're thirsty in the desert of taste.
  • Many days she eats lunch in the firm's colorful fourth-floor canteen.
  • Bring your beverages in plastic bottles or a canteen.
  • The ranch is known for its canteen offering snacks, drinks and pre-ordered meals.
  • They are often even obliged to pay more for meals at the company canteen.
  • In the canteen staff prepare for the lunchtime rush.
  • Many staffers, encountering him in the canteen or in early meetings, were surprised by his lack of bluster and vainglory.
British Dictionary definitions for canteen


a restaurant attached to a factory, school, etc, providing meals for large numbers of people
  1. a small shop that provides a limited range of items, such as toilet requisites, to a military unit
  2. a recreation centre for military personnel
a soldier's eating and drinking utensils
a temporary or mobile stand at which food is provided
  1. a box in which a set of cutlery is laid out
  2. the cutlery itself
a flask or canister for carrying water or other liquids, as used by soldiers or travellers
Word Origin
C18: from French cantine, from Italian cantina wine cellar, from canto corner, from Latin canthus iron hoop encircling chariot wheel; see cant²
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for canteen

c.1710, "store in a military camp," from French cantine "sutler's shop" (17c.), from Italian cantina "wine cellar, vault," which is perhaps another of the many meanings that were attached to Latin canto "corner;" in this case, perhaps "corner for storage." A Gaulish origin also has been proposed. Extended to "refreshment room at a military base, school, etc." from 1870. Meaning "small tin for water or liquor, carried by soldiers on the march, campers, etc." is from 1744, from a sense in French.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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