verb (3rd singular present can; past could /ko͝od/)
- 1Be able to: they can run fast I could hear footsteps he can’t afford itMore example sentences
- What they want is one or two books a week which sell in thousands, pretty much as fast as they can unpack them.
- It turns out men and women can set the alarm clock or preset some radio stations with equal ease.
- From the ridge he could see for miles in all directions as the horizon stretched away into the misty mountains.
- 1.1Be able to through acquired knowledge or skill: I can speak ItalianMore example sentences
- You just know that as soon as he can speak, he's going to be asked what he thinks of Joe being his father.
- Not only can he not read music, he cannot read at all.
- At times like these I wish I could drive.
- 1.2Have the opportunity or possibility to: there are many ways vacationers can take money abroadMore example sentences
- Well, maybe it isn't fair that one very rich man can use his money to buy any player his club chooses.
- Byng is excited by the new opportunities publishing can enjoy through the internet.
- She can even check the timetable on her mobile phone to find out if Darren's bus has left on time.
- 1.3 [with negative or in questions] Used to express doubt or surprise about the possibility of something’s being the case: he can’t have finished where can she have gone?More example sentences
- Who but the most resentful can seriously doubt that he, too, belongs on that list?
- How many Japanese mobile phone owners can want to know about North London happenings?
- Now, if a telephone company can't even sort out their own phone lines, how can they sort out mine?
- 2Be permitted to: you can use the phone if you want to nobody could legally drink on the premisesMore example sentences
- You are told that you can open the door at any time you wish, but only once, and only briefly.
- Only law officers could legally bear arms.
- It takes a couple of seconds to phone a team doctor and check if you can take something.
- 2.1Used to ask someone to do something: can you open the window? can’t you leave me alone?More example sentences
- He emerged from the shop empty handed, and said: I'm sorry, can you lend me £6?
- Can you open that window?
- Can't you be more reasonable?
- 2.2Used to make a suggestion or offer: we can have another drink if you likeMore example sentences
- We could eat out somewhere and get to know each other if you want.
- Once again, can I reiterate my offer to Mrs Fell to go through any problems she has.
- We could have another go if you like?
- 3Used to indicate that something is typically the case: antique clocks can seem out of place in modern homes he could be very moodyMore example sentences
- In just six weeks he has learned that the internet can be an extremely useful tool for research.
- Even November in Florida could be hot, and that day was no exception.
- Inscriptions in public places can also indicate the social status of the artist.
Old English cunnan 'know' (in Middle English 'know how to'), related to Dutch kunnen and German können; from an Indo-European root shared by Latin gnoscere 'know' and Greek gignōskein 'know'.
Is there any difference between can and may when used to request or express permission, as in may I ask you a few questions? or can I ask you a few questions? Many people feel that can should be reserved for expressions denoting capability, as in can you swim? , rather than for those relating to permission. May is, generally speaking, a politer and more formal way of asking for something, and is the better choice in more formal contexts. See also may1 (usage).
- 1A cylindrical metal container: a garbage can a can of paintMore example sentences
- The emphasis on cans and metal containers has allowed the company to focus on more than just its information and manufacturing systems.
- On the safety side of the issue, rust damage could occur to the bottoms of stored metal containers such as cans of thinner and other combustible fluids.
- The company, which has had to ship coffee in retro metal cans, is now telling retailers supplies will be back to normal by early December.
- 1.1A small steel or aluminum container in which food or drink is hermetically sealed for storage over long periods: soup cansMore example sentences
- Green, clear and brown glass, steel food cans and aluminium cans may be recycled at this venue.
- The waste matter for the blue bin includes papers, magazines, cardboard, food tins, aluminium drink cans, milk cartons and plastic bottles.
- Each eligible household is given a black box to put in newspapers, magazines, glass bottles, steel and aluminium cans, textiles and foil to be recycled.
- 1.2The quantity of food or drink held by a can: he drank two cans of beerMore example sentences
- Mr Barton said he and Mr Whitelock, who had been friends since they were 12, had drunk cans of lager and alcopops earlier that evening in a field behind Mr Whitelock's house.
- It was not just the larger stores who experienced an upsurge in sales as town centre shops became a hive of activity with people stocking up on everything from cans of cold drinks to fans.
- I suppose you could invite a gang of male friends around, drink cans of lager, turn it up loud and all bounce around in a huddle - but that stopped being my idea of fun quite a while ago.
- 2 (the can) North American • informal Prison.More example sentences
- Robert faces a year in the can for drug money laundering despite claiming that he never realized his cousin was a drug-dealer.
- While he may not have a violent crime on record, he's spent plenty of time in the can for other offenses.
- I do hope that she straightens out, but her actions merit real charges, and time in the can.
verb (cans, canning, canned)[with object] Back to top
- 1Preserve (food) in a can.More example sentences
- Some food companies now are canning vegetables with no salt added.
- By the 1880s canned foods had an important place in popular diet.
- Disregarding the value of your labor, canning homegrown food may save you half the cost of buying commercially canned food.
- 2North American • informal Dismiss (someone) from their job: he was canned because of a fight over promotionMore example sentences
- Smarty-pants David gets canned for being smug and superior.
- Now, compare that treatment with the fate of conservative talk show hosts punished or canned for controversial speech.
- If we're suspending officials for game-changing calls, someone needs to get canned for one of the worst calls we've seen.
- 2.1Reject (something) as inadequate: the editorial team was so disappointed that they canned the projectMore example sentences
- Mr Boman said although the June quarter was traditionally slower than the March quarter, the sales slowdown could result in some projects being canned.
- A $3.5-million cleanup project was canned in May 2000 for feasibility problems.
- However, six months after commencement of my portion of the project, my industry sponsors canned their end of the deal.
a can of worms
- A complicated matter likely to prove awkward or embarrassing: to question the traditional model of education opens up a can of wormsMore example sentences
- I was told by one of his officials that delving into such matters would merely open a can of worms!
- Unfortunately, by making a company liable for a crime that its technology is used to commit, they're opening up a can of worms that is likely to become quite messy.
- Telling the truth will open a can of worms, and cause huge embarrassment to certain establishments.
in the can
- • informal On tape or film and ready to be broadcast or released.More example sentences
- A director needs a decent film in the can to make another film.
- He worked on the set for quite a while, and even got 48 hours of film in the can.
- Having two sequels in the can before the first film even opens is risky, though.
- More example sentences
- We really had no other choices but to join a cooperative, as no independent canners would buy our peaches.
- Tomato canners love viscous, or nonwatery, tomatoes because less cooking is needed to produce thick sauce.
- In 1908 a San Antonio company canned chili and other canners followed.
Old English canne, related to Dutch kan and German Kanne; either of Germanic origin or from late Latin canna.