Definition of tin in English:

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Pronunciation: /tɪn/


1 [mass noun] A silvery-white metal, the chemical element of atomic number 50. (Symbol: Sn)
Example sentences
  • By the late 16th century Acheh had reduced the power of Johore and controlled much of Sumatra and Malaya, deriving its wealth from pepper and tin.
  • Some of it they gamble on the price of tin, or the dollar going down, or whether there'll be floods in Asia.
  • It had blamed the illegal miners for causing a drop in the international price of tin.
1.1 short for tinplate.
Example sentences
  • Using lighter material such as plywood, acrylic sheet, tin, stainless steel and cloth has also made transportation easier.
  • I like the leg room, and I demand a car made of steel, not tin.
  • Instead most graves are marked with a steel stake and a piece of rusting tin bearing a number.
1.2British informal, dated Money: Kim’s only in it for the tin
More example sentences
  • I didn't really have the proper tin to do it in, so made it in a long flat baking dish and it came out more like a Quorn sausage sponge cake, which is not necessarily a good thing.

Tin is quite a rare element, occurring chiefly in the mineral cassiterite. Pure crystalline tin exists in two allotropic modifications, the metallic form (white tin), and a semimetallic form (grey tin). It is used in various alloys, notably bronze, and for electroplating iron or steel sheets to make tinplate.

2An airtight container made of tinplate or aluminium: Albert got out the biscuit tin
More example sentences
  • You never see them scurrying to school, as we did, with baskets and biscuit tins containing ingredients.
  • There were bags of flour on the floor, lumps of doughs on chairs, bottles of fruit and nuts in boxes, and towers of biscuit tins and cookie-making things in doorways.
  • The base of his motor was a tea chest, a biscuit tin housed the projection lamp, scanning discs were cut from cardboard, and he also utilised four-penny cycle lenses.
2.1British An airtight sealed container for preserving food, made of tinplate or aluminium; a can: she had opened a tin of beans
More example sentences
  • Not only did the first division leaders pick him up on a free, but rather than superstar wages he's happy with a bowl of milk and a tin of cat food.
  • Not only was the room in a filthy state, the food cupboard contained just a tin of mushy peas, baked beans and corned beef.
  • I can empty a tin of cat food into a bowl, give a dog a bone, but never, ever, have I let any sort of animal eat out of my hand.
2.2The contents of a tin: how many tins of paint would it take?
More example sentences
  • If I eat any more tins of tuna fish, I'm going to turn into a dolphin.
  • I used to live on tins of beans and ravioli that I would heat up in my room.
  • Then the meat went in and cooked for a long while, followed by a couple of tins of kidney beans.
2.3British An open metal container for baking food: grease a 450g loaf tin
More example sentences
  • Grease the tin and line with baking parchment, then arrange the quince quarters over the base.
  • Spoon into lightly greased muffin tins and bake at 200 degrees C for about 12-15 minutes.
  • Grease a loaf tin with plenty of butter and press the mixture in.
2.4British A rectangular loaf of bread baked in an open metal container.

verb (tins, tinning, tinned)

[with object]
Cover with a thin layer of tin: the copper pans are tinned inside
More example sentences
  • She began the third game by tinning another of the backhand drop shots that her heretofore served her so well, and just like that Kitchen seized that small opening and wedged it much wider by racing off with five quick points.
  • I tinned some small speaker wires, but found that soldering and splicing wires is questionable depending on the size of the wire.
  • These alloys can be tinned although some compositions are more suitable than others.



do (exactly) what it says on the tin

British informal Perform as advertised or as one would expect judging by name or reputation: a big budget Hollywood film that does what it says on the tin
From the proprietary slogan 'Does exactly what it says on the tin', apparently originally used in an advertisement for wood varnish
More example sentences
  • Failing to realise that an option marked 'delete' doesn't do what it says on the tin isn't stupidity; it's lack of familiarity.
  • A Brief History of Crime doesn't quite do what it says on the tin.
  • By its own admission, his third novel fails to do what it says on the tin.

have a tin ear

informal Be tone-deaf: anyone can tune a piano with it—you can actually have a tin ear figurative the company has had a tin ear for hearing what customers want
More example sentences
  • Add to this that I have a tin ear for US politics, and my qualifications for commenting on last week's election, and giving my liberal friends tips on how to warm their eggs and suckle their young are complete.
  • Cool, unless you have a tin ear or prefer pottery.
  • But when it comes to portraying certain American cultural expressions, the BBC seems to have a tin ear.

put the tin lid on

another way of saying put the lid on it (see lid).


Old English, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch tin and German Zinn.

  • The metal tin appears in the writings of the Anglo-Saxon king Alfred the Great. Use of tin to mean a sealed metal container for food or drink dates from the late 18th century. Tin is not a precious metal, and a number of phrases refer to its relative lack of value. To have a tin ear is to be tone-deaf. The term a little tin god for someone regarded with unjustified respect conjures up the idea of an idol made of cheap tin instead of gold or silver. In the early 20th century a tin Lizzie was an affectionate nickname for a car, especially one of the early Ford models. Since the late 1980s the wood preservative manufacturer Ronseal has seen its slogan It does exactly what it says on the tin become a catch-all phrase for anything which unpretentiously does what it claims to.

Words that rhyme with tin

agin, akin, begin, Berlin, bin, Boleyn, Bryn, chin, chin-chin, Corinne, din, fin, Finn, Flynn, gaijin, Glyn, grin, Gwyn, herein, Ho Chi Minh, in, inn, Jin, jinn, kin, Kweilin, linn, Lynn, mandolin, mandoline, Min, no-win, pin, Pinyin, quin, shin, sin, skin, spin, therein, thin, Tientsin, Tonkin, Turin, twin, underpin, Vietminh, violin, wherein, whin, whipper-in, win, within, Wynne, yin

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