From Middle English, borrowed from Old French contenir, from Latin continere (“to hold or keep together, comprise, contain”), combined form of con- (“together”) + teneō (“to hold”).
contain (third-person singular simple present contains, present participle containing, simple past and past participle contained)
- (transitive) To hold inside.
- 1892, Walter Besant, chapter III, in The Ivory Gate […], New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, […], →OCLC:
- At half-past nine on this Saturday evening, the parlour of the Salutation Inn, High Holborn, contained most of its customary visitors. […] In former days every tavern of repute kept such a room for its own select circle, a club, or society, of habitués, who met every evening, for a pipe and a cheerful glass.
- 2013 July 20, “Welcome to the plastisphere”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8845:
- [The researchers] noticed many of their pieces of [plastic marine] debris sported surface pits around two microns across. Such pits are about the size of a bacterial cell. Closer examination showed that some of these pits did, indeed, contain bacteria, […].
- (transitive) To include as a part.
- 2014 April 21, “Subtle effects”, in The Economist, volume 411, number 8884:
- Manganism has been known about since the 19th century, when miners exposed to ores containing manganese, a silvery metal, began to totter, slur their speech and behave like someone inebriated.
- (transitive) To put constraints upon; to restrain; to confine; to keep within bounds.
- I'm so excited, I can hardly contain myself!
- c. 1590–1592 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Taming of the Shrew”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act INDUCTION, scene i]:
- Fear not, my lord: we can contain ourselves.
- 1596 (date written; published 1633), Edmund Spenser, A Vewe of the Present State of Irelande […], Dublin: […] Societie of Stationers, […], →OCLC; republished as A View of the State of Ireland […] (Ancient Irish Histories), Dublin: […] Society of Stationers, […] Hibernia Press, […] [b]y John Morrison, 1809, →OCLC:
- [The king's] only Person is oftentimes instead of an Army, to contain the unruly People from a thousand evil Occasions.
- 1892, Walter Besant, “Prologue: Who is Edmund Gray?”, in The Ivory Gate […], New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, […], →OCLC, page 16:
- Athelstan Arundel walked home all the way, foaming and raging. No omnibus, cab, or conveyance ever built could contain a young man in such a rage. His mother lived at Pembridge Square, which is four good measured miles from Lincoln's Inn.
- 1988, Lee Mavers, “There She Goes”, in Sixpence None the Richer, published 1997, performed by Sixpence None the Richer:
- There she goes / There she goes again / Racing through my brain / And I just can't contain / This feeling that remains
- (mathematics, of a set etc., transitive) To have as an element or subset.
- A group contains a unique inverse for each of its elements.
- If that subgraph contains the vertex in question then it must be spanning.
- (obsolete, intransitive) To restrain desire; to live in continence or chastity.
- 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), London: […] Robert Barker, […], →OCLC, Bible Corinthians/#8 1 Corinthians:8–9:
- But if they cannot contain, let them marry.
- This is generally a stative verb that rarely takes the continuous inflection. See Category:English stative verbs
- (hold inside): enclose, inhold
- (include as part): comprise, embody, incorporate, inhold
- (limit by restraint): control, curb, repress, restrain, restrict, stifle; See also Thesaurus:curb
to contain — see hold
To hold inside
To include as a part
To limit through restraint
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
Translations to be checked
- contain in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
- contain in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911
- contain at OneLook Dictionary Search