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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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "I am very thankful to you," she said, handing back the canteen; yet the words were spoken in mockery.

    My Lady of the North Randall Parrish
  • This revived him, and he offered us his canteen, in which was some excellent Jamaica.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • “You are a rebel, but I will do that for you,” replied the Zouave; and he gave him a canteen filled with water.

  • Ashton had half drained the canteen on the way up the mountain.

    Out of the Depths Robert Ames Bennet
  • The bayonet scabbard lay at one side, the canteen at the other.

    Campaigns of a Non-Combatant, George Alfred Townsend
  • Blake dashed his face with the cupful of water still left in the canteen.

    Out of the Depths Robert Ames Bennet
  • Even our little social haven, the canteen, did not stay the urgent need for something more active.

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
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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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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