I. verb (past could; present singular & plural can) Etymology: Middle English (1st & 3d singular present indicative), from Old English; akin to Old High German kan (1st & 3d singular present indicative) know, am able, Old English cnāwan to know — more at know Date: before 12th century transitive verb 1. obsolete know, understand 2. archaic to be able to do, make, or accomplish intransitive verb archaic to have knowledge or skill verbal auxiliary 1. a. know how to <
she can read
b. be physically or mentally able to <
he can lift 200 pounds
c. — used to indicate possibility <
do you think he can still be alive
those things can happen
— sometimes used interchangeably with may d. be permitted by conscience or feeling to <
can hardly blame her
e. be made possible or probable by circumstances to <
he can hardly have meant that
f. be inherently able or designed to <
everything that money can buy
g. be logically or axiologically able to <
2 + 2 can also be written 3 + 1
h. be enabled by law, agreement, or custom to 2. have permission to — used interchangeably with may <
you can go now if you like
Usage: Can and may are most frequently interchangeable in senses denoting possibility; because the possibility of one's doing something may depend on another's acquiescence, they have also become interchangeable in the sense denoting permission. The use of can to ask or grant permission has been common since the 19th century and is well established, although some commentators feel may is more appropriate in formal contexts. May is relatively rare in negative constructions (mayn't is not common); cannot and can't are usual in such contexts. II. noun Etymology: Middle English canne, from Old English; akin to Old High German channa Date: before 12th century 1. a usually cylindrical receptacle: a. a vessel for holding liquids; specifically a drinking vessel b. a usually metal typically cylindrical receptacle usually with an open top, often with a removable cover, and sometimes with a spout or side handles (as for holding milk or trash) c. a container (as of tinplate) in which products (as perishable foods) are hermetically sealed for preservation until use d. a jar for packing or preserving fruit or vegetables 2. jail 3. a. toilet b. bathroom 1 4. buttocks 5. destroyer 2 • canful noun III. transitive verb (canned; canning) Date: 1859 1. a. to put in a can ; preserve by sealing in airtight cans or jars <
can tomatoes
b. to hit (a golf shot) into the cup c. to hit (a shot) in basketball 2. to discharge from employment 3. slang to put a stop or end to • canner noun IV. abbreviation 1. canceled; cancellation 2. cannon 3. canto

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Can — Can, v. t. & i. Note: [The transitive use is obsolete.] [imp. {Could}.] [OE. cunnen, cannen (1st sing. pres. I can), to know, know how, be able, AS. cunnan, 1st sing. pres. ic cann or can, pl. cunnon, 1st sing. imp. c[=u][eth]e (for cun[eth]e); p …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • CAN — bezeichnet: einen meist männlichen Vornamen, siehe Can (Vorname) den alternativen Titel des deutschen Fernsehfilms „Wut“ von Züli Aladag, siehe Wut (Fernsehfilm) eine deutsche Rockband, siehe Can (Band) im Graffiti die Sprühdose (englisch für:… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • can — noun. Can is the word generally used in BrE for the container when the contents are liquid (a can of beer / a can of soup). When the contents are solid, tin is more usual (a tin of beans / a tin of peaches) but can is used for this too in AmE.… …   Modern English usage

  • CaN — bezeichnet: den männlichen Vornamen türkischen Ursprungs, siehe Can (Vorname) den alternativen Titel des deutschen Fernsehfilms Wut von Züli Aladag, siehe Wut (Fernsehfilm) die deutsche Rockband, siehe Can (Band) im Graffiti die Sprühdose… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Can. — bezeichnet: den männlichen Vornamen türkischen Ursprungs, siehe Can (Vorname) den alternativen Titel des deutschen Fernsehfilms Wut von Züli Aladag, siehe Wut (Fernsehfilm) die deutsche Rockband, siehe Can (Band) im Graffiti die Sprühdose… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Can-Am — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Can Am es una empresa canadiense fabricante de motocicletas, subsidiaria de Bombardier Recreational Products, una empresa multinacional también de origen canadiense. Origen y desarrollo La empresa se originó en 1973 …   Wikipedia Español

  • can — can1 [kan; , kən] v.aux. pt.could [ME < OE, 1st & 3d pers. sing., pres. indic., of cunnan, know, have power to, be able; common Gmc < IE base * gen , *gno > L gnoscere, KNOW; orig. meaning “to be able mentally or spiritually,” as… …   English World dictionary

  • can — Ⅰ. can [1] ► MODAL VERB (3rd sing. present can; past could) 1) be able to. 2) used to express doubt or surprise: he can t have finished. 3) used to indicate that something is typically the case: he could be very moody. 4) be permit …   English terms dictionary

  • Can — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. {{{image}}}   Sigles d une seule lettre   Sigles de deux lettres > Sigles de trois lettres …   Wikipédia en Français

  • can — vb Can, may are often confused in use. In its commonest sense can expresses ability, whether physical or mental {he can climb this pole} {he is only four, but he can read} {he will do it if he possibly can} {when Duty whispers low, thou must, the …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • can — cañ interj. cin (skardžiam suskambėjimui reikšti): Klausau tik cañ cañ su žvaguliais ir nuskambėjo tolyn Ds. Cañ cañ cañ – skambina pietų Gs. Tik cañ – ir iškrito (sudužo) langas Gs. Su nagu užkabinsi už dalgės – tik cañ (suskamba)! Jnšk …   Dictionary of the Lithuanian Language

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