"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[kuh n-teyn] /kənˈteɪn/
verb (used with object)
to hold or include within its volume or area:
This glass contains water. This paddock contains our best horses.
to be capable of holding; have capacity for:
The room will contain 75 persons safely.
to have as contents or constituent parts; comprise; include.
to keep under proper control; restrain:
He could not contain his amusement.
to prevent or limit the expansion, influence, success, or advance of (a hostile nation, competitor, opposing force, natural disaster, etc.):
to contain an epidemic.
to succeed in preventing the spread of:
efforts to contain water pollution.
Mathematics. (of a number) to be a multiple of; be divisible by, without a remainder:
Ten contains five.
to be equal to:
A quart contains two pints.
Origin of contain
1250-1300; Middle English conte(y)nen < Anglo-French contener, Old French contenir < Latin continēre, equivalent to con- con- + tenēre to hold (see tenet)
Related forms
containable, adjective
precontain, verb (used with object)
uncontainable, adjective
1. Contain, accommodate, hold, express the idea that something is so designed that something else can exist or be placed within it. Contain refers to what is actually within a given container. Hold emphasizes the idea of keeping within bounds; it refers also to the greatest amount or number that can be kept within a given container. Accommodate means to contain comfortably or conveniently, or to meet the needs of a certain number. A passenger plane that accommodates 50 passengers may be able to hold 60, but at a given time may contain only 30. 3. embody, embrace. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for contain
  • They acknowledged that the company's spring waters naturally contain benzene but said it was usually filtered out.
  • If you haven't seen last night's show yet, this might contain spoilers.
  • Had it been activated beforehand it should have been able to contain the pressure in the well, saving the rig.
  • Soy milks naturally contain phytates, which can inhibit the body's ability to use calcium.
  • The simple-sounding grunts and hoots of the toadfish contain surprisingly complex information.
  • Modest start-up funds are available, and the research plan should contain an estimate of required start-up funds.
  • Or give the press free access to the reports that does not contain real secrets.
  • Each bolt can contain up to one billion volts of electricity.
  • Melton's collection includes hundreds of dead drops, such as a stone and a bolt that contain hollowed out centers.
  • Genes contain instructions for building proteins, which are made of units called amino acids.
British Dictionary definitions for contain


verb (transitive)
to hold or be capable of holding or including within a fixed limit or area: this contains five pints
to keep (one's feelings, behaviour, etc) within bounds; restrain
to consist of; comprise: the book contains three different sections
(military) to prevent (enemy forces) from operating beyond a certain level or area
  1. to be a multiple of, leaving no remainder: 6 contains 2 and 3
  2. to have as a subset
Derived Forms
containable, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French contenir, from Latin continēre, from com- together + tenēre to hold
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 contain

late 13c., from Old French contein-, stem of contenir, from Latin continere (transitive) "to hold together, enclose," from com- "together" (see com-) + tenere "to hold" (see tenet). Related: Containable.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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