verb con·tain \kən-ˈtān\

: to have (something) inside

: to have or include (something)

: to keep (something) from spreading : to keep (something) within limits

Full Definition of CONTAIN

transitive verb
:  to keep within limits: as
a :  restrain, control <could hardly contain her enthusiasm>
b :  check, halt <contain the spread of a deadly disease>
c :  to follow successfully a policy of containment toward <efforts to contain Communism>
d :  to prevent (as an enemy or opponent) from advancing or from making a successful attack
a :  to have within :  hold
b :  comprise, include <the bill contains several new clauses>
a :  to be divisible by usually without a remainder
b :  enclose, bound
intransitive verb
:  to restrain oneself
con·tain·able \-ˈtā-nə-bəl\ adjective

Origin of CONTAIN

Middle English conteinen, from Anglo-French cunteign-, cuntyen-, stem of cuntenir, from Latin continēre to hold together, hold in, contain, from com- + tenēre to hold — more at thin
First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of CONTAIN

contain, hold, accommodate mean to have or be capable of having within. contain implies the actual presence of a specified substance or quantity within something <the can contains a quart of oil>. hold implies the capacity of containing or the usual or permanent function of containing or keeping <the bookcase will hold all my textbooks>. accommodate stresses holding without crowding or inconvenience <the hall can accommodate 500 people>.
CONTAIN Defined for Kids


verb con·tain \kən-ˈtān\

Definition of CONTAIN for Kids

:  to have within :  hold <The box contained some old books.>
:  to consist of or include <The building contains classrooms.>
:  to keep within limits :  restrain, check <The fire was contained.> <I tried to contain my anger.>

Word Root of CONTAIN

The Latin words tenēre, meaning to hold, gives us the roots ten and tain. Words from the Latin tenēre have something to do with holding. Something tenacious holds on and is not easily gotten rid of. To contain is to hold things together inside. To obtain is to get hold of. To retain is to continue to hold.


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