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

  • transitive v. To have within; hold.
  • transitive v. To be capable of holding.
  • transitive v. To have as component parts; include or comprise: The album contains many memorable songs.
  • transitive v. To hold or keep within limits; restrain: I could hardly contain my curiosity.
  • transitive v. To halt the spread or development of; check: Science sought an effective method of containing the disease.
  • transitive v. To check the expansion or influence of (a hostile power or ideology) by containment.
  • transitive v. Mathematics To be exactly divisible by.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. : To hold inside.
  • v. : To include as a part.
  • v. : To limit through restraint.
  • v. To have as an element.
  • v. To restrain desire; to live in continence or chastity.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To hold within fixed limits; to comprise; to include; to inclose; to hold.
  • transitive v. To have capacity for; to be able to hold; to hold; to be equivalent to.
  • transitive v. To put constraint upon; to restrain; to confine; to keep within bounds.
  • intransitive v. To restrain desire; to live in continence or chastity.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To hold within fixed limits; comprehend; comprise; include; hold.
  • To be capable of holding; have, as a vessel, an internal volume equal to: as, this vessel contains two gallons.
  • To comprise, as a writing; have as contents.
  • To hold in opinion; regard (with).
  • Reflexively, to conduct or deport (one's self); hence, to act; do.
  • To put restraint on; restrain; retain; withhold.
  • Reflexively, to keep within bounds; hold in; moderate.
  • In mathematics, to be divisible by, without a remainder.
  • To restrain or control desire, action, or emotion.
  • To exist; be held or included; be or remain.
  • 3. To conduct one's self; appear in action; behave.
  • To hold (a body of troops) in position, usually by deploying the containing force in its front and threatening an attack.

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

  • v. contain or hold; have within
  • v. include or contain; have as a component
  • v. be divisible by
  • v. be capable of holding or containing
  • v. hold back, as of a danger or an enemy; check the expansion or influence of
  • v. lessen the intensity of; temper; hold in restraint; hold or keep within limits


Middle English conteinen, from Old French contenir, from Latin continēre : com-, com- + tenēre, to hold; see ten- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old French contenir, from Latin continere ("to hold or keep together, comprise, contain"), combined form of con- ("together") + teneō ("to hold"). (Wiktionary)



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