Definition of contain in English:


Syllabification: con·tain
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.
consist of, be made up of, be composed of
1.2(Of a number) be divisible by (a factor) without a remainder.
More 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.
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.


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



More 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.

Definition of contain in: