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

  • n. A malleable, silvery metallic element obtained chiefly from cassiterite. It 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 231.89°C; boiling point 2,270°C; specific gravity 7.31; valence 2, 4. See Table at element.
  • n. Tin plate.
  • n. A container or box made of tin plate.
  • n. Chiefly British A container for preserved foodstuffs; a can.
  • n. Chiefly British The contents of such a container.
  • transitive v. To plate or coat with tin.
  • transitive v. Chiefly British To preserve or pack in tins; can.
  • adj. Of, relating to, or made of tin.
  • adj. Constructed of inferior material.
  • adj. Spurious.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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.
  • n. Thin plates of iron covered with tin; tin plate.
  • n. Money.
  • transitive v. To cover with tin or tinned iron, or to overlay with tin foil.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. 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.
  • n. Collectively, thin plates of iron covered with tin. See tin-plate.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Money.
  • Made of or from tin; made of iron covered with tin: as, tin plates; a tin vessel.
  • A child's toy.
  • 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.
  • n. 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.

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

  • n. a vessel (box, can, pan, etc.) made of tinplate and used mainly in baking
  • n. metal container for storing dry foods such as tea or flour
  • v. plate with tin
  • v. prepare (a metal) for soldering or brazing by applying a thin layer of solder to the surface
  • v. preserve in a can or tin
  • n. a silvery malleable metallic element that resists corrosion; used in many alloys and to coat other metals to prevent corrosion; obtained chiefly from cassiterite where it occurs as tin oxide
  • n. airtight sealed metal container for food or drink or paint etc.


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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  • 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

  • Sn

    December 2, 2007

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

    December 12, 2006