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

  • n. A container of tin-coated sheet metal used especially for preserving food.
  • n. Informal A naval destroyer.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a container, usually cylindrical, made out of sheet metal coated with tin
  • n. a container, usually cylindrical, made out of sheet metal coated with aluminum
  • n. a destroyer

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

  • n. informal term for a destroyer
  • n. airtight sealed metal container for food or drink or paint etc.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • They had paddled something over two miles up that arm when Fox-Foot beached the canoe, built a fire, spilled out the remainder of the pork and beans, threw the tin can on the bank, then marshalled his crew aboard again, and deliberately steered over the course they had already come.

    The Shagganappi

  • He was making his way down the rain-filled gutter by hopping around on his right foot, arms outstretched to balance himself, kicking a rusty tin can ahead of him.

    The Satan Bug

  • Instead of being a hole in the ground, a Dunny dunny was a tarred tin can which stank, and as it filled came alive with noisome maggots and worms.

    The Thorn Birds

  • He goes on with a certain impudence, but I am afraid the tin can is firmly tied to his tail, and that inwardly he repeats, like Don Rodrigo in the Spanish ballad: ‘Ah, now it bites me where I most have sinned!’

    Lady Chatterley's Lover

  • I tossed a tin can to Doris Ann and pointed toward the water seeping in around our ankles.

    Change Me Into Zeus’s Daughter

  • Buitenzorg a monkey that could open a tin can with a knife; but a monkey, that s not really a proper animal.

    The War with the Newts


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  • You can see the similarity on both counts: Small, immobile unless tossed, easily crushed, used to store small brined fish or sugary beverages.

    July 3, 2008

  • In the song 'Space Oddity', David Bowie uses it as shorthand for a spaceship or rocket.

    July 2, 2008

  • Slang for a WW II U.S. Navy destroyer.

    December 9, 2007