Definition of contain in English:

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Pronunciation: /kənˈtān/


[with object]
1Have or hold (someone or something) within: coffee cans that once contained a full pound of coffee
More example sentences
  • Read Cole's post, which is long and contains links within it, carefully; he explains the most effective way to protest and why.
  • Morris dancing is obviously a very old practice and it contains clues within it as to its origins.
  • The sacred nature of these figures was thus established by an explanatory narrative that did not succeed in containing their meaning within a completely familiar context.
hold, carry, accommodate, seat
1.1Be made up of (a number of things); consist of: borscht can contain mainly beets or a number of vegetables
More example sentences
  • Well, it was right in the sense that it was a numerical string that contained the numbers 7 and 9, but otherwise it was useless.
  • Each part has a brief introduction and contains a number of photographs and extracts from documents, roughly divided under more or less cryptic chapter headings.
  • This scheme contains a number of amendments, including the amalgamation of some smaller polling districts and their polling stations.
include, comprise, take in, incorporate, involve, encompass, embrace;
consist of, be made up of, be composed of
1.2(Of a number) be divisible by (a factor) without a remainder.
Example sentences
  • Let F u (u >) be the smallest Fibonacci number containing the prime p.
  • Such sets (of unique items) could now contain consecutive Fibonacci numbers.
  • This fraction contains both the ER and the Golgi complex, because these compartments have densities between 1.13 and 1.17 in tobacco leaf cells.
2Control or restrain (oneself or a feeling): she was scarcely able to contain herself as she waited to spill the beans
More example sentences
  • She backed out of the office barely able to contain herself from skipping and jumping about like some demented grasshopper.
  • Derek rode alongside the carriage, barely able to contain himself.
  • Shelley hopped from one foot to the other, barely able to contain herself.
restrain, curb, rein in, suppress, repress, stifle, subdue, quell, swallow, bottle up, hold in, keep in check;
control, master
2.1Prevent (a severe problem) from increasing in extent or intensity: a reassuring statement on efforts to contain the disaster
More example sentences
  • He recommends companies adopt an anti-hoax policy to help contain the problem.
  • Hospital bosses believe the bacteria's spread has been contained as a result of this and other emergency measures, as no new cases have been reported for more than a week.
  • Nobody would deny that dangerous rogue states have to be contained to prevent them from becoming dangers not just to themselves but also to their neighbours.



Pronunciation: /kənˈtānəb(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • I am complicit, in the sense that I am trying to point out that everything is not containable, and everything is interconnected, and myths are being accepted as truth.
  • The man is deeply pro-nuclear: seeing the containable risks of peaceful nuclear power as preferable to the certain high levels of fossil fuel pollution we currently live with.
  • That sounded rather like wishful thinking, as if some of our seekers after evil would almost have welcomed the release of a small, containable, but suitably photogenic, cloud of poison gas in the desert.


Middle English: from Old French contenir, from Latin continere, from con- 'altogether' + tenere 'to hold'.

  • content from Late Middle English:

    There are two words spelt content in English; one with the stress on the second syllable meaning ‘happy’ which comes from Latin contentus ‘satisfied’, the other with the stress on the first syllable meaning ‘things included’ from Latin contenta ‘things contained’. Both Latin words go back to continere ‘hold, contain’ which also gives us contain (Middle English).

Words that rhyme with contain

abstain, appertain, arcane, arraign, ascertain, attain, Bahrain, bane, blain, brain, Braine, Cain, Caine, campaign, cane, cinquain, chain, champagne, champaign, Champlain, Charmaine, chicane, chow mein, cocaine, Coleraine, Coltrane, complain, constrain, crane, Dane, deign, demesne, demi-mondaine, detain, disdain, domain, domaine, drain, Duane, Dwane, Elaine, entertain, entrain, explain, fain, fane, feign, gain, Germaine, germane, grain, humane, Hussein, inane, Jain, Jane, Jermaine, Kane, La Fontaine, lain, lane, legerdemain, Lorraine, main, Maine, maintain, mane, mise en scène, Montaigne, moraine, mundane, obtain, ordain, Paine, pane, pertain, plain, plane, Port-of-Spain, profane, rain, Raine, refrain, reign, rein, retain, romaine, sane, Seine, Shane, Sinn Fein, skein, slain, Spain, Spillane, sprain, stain, strain, sustain, swain, terrain, thane, train, twain, Ujjain, Ukraine, underlain, urbane, vain, vane, vein, Verlaine, vicereine, wain, wane, Wayne

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: con·tain

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