from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A crystalline, silvery metallic element obtained chiefly from cassiterite, and having two notable allotropic forms. Malleable white tin is the useful allotrope, but at temperatures below 13.2°C it slowly converts to the brittle gray allotrope. Tin is used to coat other metals to prevent corrosion and is a part of numerous alloys, such as soft solder, pewter, type metal, and bronze. Atomic number 50; atomic weight 118.71; melting point 231.93°C; boiling point 2,602°C; specific gravity (gray) 5.77, (white) 7.29; valence 2, 4. cross-reference: Periodic Table.
  • noun Tin plate.
  • noun A container or box made of tin plate.
  • noun A container for preserved foodstuffs; a can.
  • noun The contents of such a container.
  • transitive verb To plate or coat with tin.
  • transitive verb Chiefly British To preserve or pack in tins; can.
  • adjective Of, relating to, or made of tin.
  • adjective Constructed of inferior material.
  • adjective Spurious.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In cricket, a sheet of metal bearing painted numbers, exhibited in a conspicuous place to indicate the score of the match to spectators. Hutchinson, Cricket, p. 97.
  • To cover or overlay with tin; coat with tin.
  • To put up, pack, or preserve in tins; can: as, to tin condensed milk; to tin provisions.
  • noun Chemical symbol, Sn (stannum); atomic weight, 118.8. A metal nearly approaching silver in whiteness and luster, highly malleable, taking a high polish, fusing at 442° F., and having a specific gravity of about 7.3.
  • noun Collectively, thin plates of iron covered with tin. See tin-plate.
  • noun A pot, pan, or other utensil made of tin, or of iron covered with tin; especially, in Great Britain, such a vessel prepared for preserving meats, fruits, etc.; a can: as, milk-tins.
  • noun Money.
  • Made of or from tin; made of iron covered with tin: as, tin plates; a tin vessel.
  • A child's toy.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To cover with tin or tinned iron, or to overlay with tin foil.
  • noun (Chem.) An elementary substance found as an oxide in the mineral cassiterite, and reduced as a soft silvery-white crystalline metal, with a tinge of yellowish-blue, and a high luster. It is malleable at ordinary temperatures, but brittle when heated. It is softer than gold and can be beaten out into very thin strips called tinfoil. It is ductile at 2120, when it can be drawn out into wire which is not very tenacious; it melts at 4420, and at a higher temperature burns with a brilliant white light. Air and moisture act on tin very slightly. The peculiar properties of tin, especially its malleability, its brilliancy and the slowness with which it rusts make it very serviceable. With other metals it forms valuable alloys, as bronze, gun metal, bell metal, pewter and solder. It is not easily oxidized in the air, and is used chiefly to coat iron to protect it from rusting, in the form of tin foil with mercury to form the reflective surface of mirrors, and in solder, bronze, speculum metal, and other alloys. Its compounds are designated as stannous, or stannic. Symbol Sn (Stannum). Atomic weight 117.4.
  • noun Thin plates of iron covered with tin; tin plate.
  • noun Cant Money.
  • noun (Metal.) commercial tin, cast into blocks, and partially refined, but containing small quantities of various impurities, as copper, lead, iron, arsenic, etc.; solid tin as distinguished from tin plate; -- called also bar tin.
  • noun (Old Chem.) See Fuming liquor of Libavius, under Fuming.
  • noun (Metal.) See under Grain.
  • noun (Dyeing) stannous chloride, especially so called when used as a mordant.
  • noun See under Stream.
  • noun (Chem.) the peculiar creaking noise made when a bar of tin is bent. It is produced by the grating of the crystal granules on each other.
  • noun tin reduced to a thin leaf.
  • noun (Mining) a kind of buddle used in washing tin ore.
  • noun (Dyeing) stannous chloride, used as a mordant in dyeing and calico printing.
  • noun [Obs.] a customary duty in England, formerly paid to tithingmen for liberty to dig in tin mines.
  • noun thin sheet iron coated with tin.
  • noun See Stannite.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun uncountable A malleable, ductile, metallic element, resistant to corrosion, with atomic number 50 and symbol Sn.
  • noun New Zealand, UK, countable An airtight container, made of tin or another metal, used to preserve food.
  • noun countable A metal pan used for baking, roasting, etc.
  • noun countable ) The bottom part of the front wall, which is "out" if a player strikes it with the ball.
  • adjective Made of tin.
  • adjective Made of galvanised iron or built of corrugated iron.
  • verb transitive To place into a tin in order to preserve.
  • verb transitive To cover with tin.
  • verb transitive To coat with solder in preparation for soldering.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a vessel (box, can, pan, etc.) made of tinplate and used mainly in baking
  • noun metal container for storing dry foods such as tea or flour
  • verb plate with tin


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old English.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English tin, from Proto-Germanic *tinan, of unknown origin. Cognates include German Zinn and Dutch tin.


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  • Can be spelled with the Periodic Table of Elements symbols: TiN

    December 12, 2006

  • Sn

    December 2, 2007

  • Tin is often an adjective as with tin-plate (tinned) but it can be literally a plate made of tin. Coating with tin protects metals from corrosion so you can have tinned copper, tinned steel, and so forth. Tin is also a key alloy used with copper to make bronze and was essential in the creation of tools that were made in what we call the bronze age. But tin is remarkable in other ways. It melts at temperatures lower than frying oil; it is soft and malleable so it is easily made into very thin foil (tin foil used to wrap chewing gum before the advent of aluminum or plastic) and tin is not a common metal. It is found in granite-like rock which is very hard until it weathers and decomposes. When hard, extracting tin from this rock is very difficult. A great deal of tin comes from so-called 'placer' deposits where the minerals of the granite have softened and decomposed, leaving the tin loose. The lighter minerals wash or blow away leaving naturally sorted sands of tin which can then be sintered and melted to be used to alloy or coat other metals.

    Tin is not a common metal so its use in different cultures often required shipping the metal considerable distances. No matter how you look at it, metal or ore shipment involves considerable weight and any volume is difficult to transport. This commerce came with linguistic as well as cultural associations and skills. In this sense, tin, is one of the key metals--like silver, gold, copper and later iron--that shaped the interaction of peoples in different places. The synonymy of words in different languages for tin may be one of the key links.

    But tin is remarkable in yet another way. It, along with some metals such as lead and some minerals, acts as a fluxing agent which lowers the temperature at which touching minerals will melt and fuse. Thus many glazes in pottery are achieved with the aid of tin as part of either the clay or a coating slip. The presence of tin allows the potter to make better use of a lower-temperature fire to create ceramic ware. Tin-based glazes are opaque and provide the background (often white) for brilliant colored ceramic tile coatings or plate decoration. A ceramic plate may well be tin-coated much as a metal plate might be tinned or actually made of pure tin. A tin plate can quickly melt over a hot fire. All of this informs the various expressions such as tin-pan alley, or 'tinny' or tinsmith.Tin may be a small, short, word but its footprint is large.

    August 6, 2009