can Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary

Meaning of “can” in the English Dictionary

"can" in British English

See all translations

canmodal verb

uk   us   strong /kæn/ weak /kən/

can modal verb (ABILITY)

A1 to be ​able to: Can you ​drive? She can ​speak four ​languages. Can you ​read that ​sign from this ​distance? The ​doctors are doing all that they can, but she's still not ​breathingproperly. Do the ​best you can - I ​realize the ​circumstances are not ​ideal. If the ​party is ​awful, we can alwaysleave (= that would be one ​possiblesolution to ​ourproblem). "She's really ​furious about it." "Can you ​blame her (= I'm not ​surprised)?"can do US informal used to say that you can and will do something: "Will you ​mail this ​letter for me, ​please?" "Can do." "I need you to ​pick up the ​kids today." "Sorry, no can do (= no I can't)."
More examples

can modal verb (PERMISSION)

A1 to be ​allowed to: Can I use ​yourbike, John? You can ​park over there. You can have a ​piece of ​cake after you've ​eatenyourvegetables! informal sometimes used to ​tell someone ​angrily to do something: If you ​carry on being ​horrible to ​yoursister, Sophie, you can just go to ​bed!
More examples

can modal verb (REQUEST)

A1 used to ​request something: If you ​see Brett, can you ​tell him I'm in ​town next ​weekend? Can you make a little less ​noise, ​please? I'm ​trying to ​work.
More examples

can modal verb (POSSIBILITY)

A2 used to ​expresspossibility: You can get ​stamps from the ​localnewsagents. You can get very ​nastyskindiseases from ​bathing in ​dirtywater. Smoking can ​causecancer. Noise can be ​quite a ​problem when you're ​living in a ​flat. He can be really ​annoying at ​times (= he is sometimes very ​annoying).
More examples

can modal verb (OFFER)

A1 used in ​politeoffers of ​help: Can I ​help you with those ​bags? I'm ​afraid Ms Ferguson has already ​left the ​office. Can I be of any ​help?
More examples


uk   us   /kæn/

can noun (CONTAINER)

A2 [C] (also tin can, UK also tin) a ​closedmetalcontainer, ​especially cylinder-shaped, in which some ​types of ​drink and ​food are ​sold: a can of ​soup/​beans [C] (UK also tin) the ​amount of ​food or ​drink that is ​contained in a can: You'll need a can of ​tuna for this ​recipe. [C] (UK also tin) a ​metalcontainer, ​especially one with a ​lid, ​handle, and ​shapedopening for ​pouring: an oil can a can of ​paint

can noun (PRISON)

the can [S] US informal forprison: He ​spent ten ​years in the can for ​armedrobbery.

can noun (TOILET)

the can US informal fortoilet

canverb [T]

uk   us   /kæn/ (-nn-)

can verb [T] (FOOD)

to put ​food and ​drink into a ​closedmetalcontainer without ​air: He ​works in a ​factory where they can ​fruit.

can verb [T] (STOP)

mainly US informal to ​stop doing something or making ​noise: Hey, can it, would you? I'm ​trying to ​sleep.
(Definition of can from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"can" in American English

See all translations

cannoun [C]

 us   /kæn/

can noun [C] (CONTAINER)

a ​metalcontainer, esp. a ​closed, ​cylindricalcontainer in which ​food and ​drink are packaged: a ​gas/​watering can The ​vendingmachine has ​soda in cans. A can is also the ​amount of ​food or ​drink that a can ​holds: I had a can of ​soup for ​lunch.

canverb [T]

 us   /kæn/ (-nn-)

can verb [T] (CONTAIN)

to ​preservefood by putting it into a can or into a ​jar (= ​glasscontainer) from which the ​air is ​removed: They can all ​kinds of ​fruit. slang If you get ​canned, you are ​dismissed from ​yourjob: No, I’m not on ​vacation – I got ​canned last ​week.

canmodal verb

 us   /kæn, kən/ (present tense can, past tense could  /kʊd, kəd/ )

can modal verb (ABLE)

to be ​able to: She can ​speak four ​languages. We’re doing the ​best we can, but we won’t make ​ourdeadline.

can modal verb (PERMIT)

to be ​allowed or to have ​permission: You can ​park on the ​street. You can do it by yourself. Can is also used to ​request something: Can you ​help me ​lift this ​box? Can I have a ​tissue, ​please?Note: Can is usually used in standard spoken English when asking for permission. It is acceptable in most forms of written English, although in very formal writing, such as official instructions, may is often used instead: Persons under 14 ​unaccompanied by an ​adult may not ​enter.

can modal verb (BE POSSIBLE)

used to ​expresspossibility in the ​present: You can get ​stamps at the ​postoffice.

can modal verb (OFFER)

used in ​politeoffers of ​help or by someone who ​providesservice, as in a ​store: Can I ​help you with those ​bags?
(Definition of can from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"can" in Business English

See all translations

canverb [T]

uk     us   strong /kæn/ weak /kən, kn/ (-nn-)
PRODUCTION to put ​food or drink into a ​closed metal ​container to preserve it: canned ​dogfoods.
US informal HR to ​remove someone from their ​job: After becoming ​partner in May of last ​year, she was canned five months later.
(Definition of can from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of can?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

“can” in Business English

Word of the Day

Word of the Day

Calling occupants of interplanetary craft
Calling occupants of interplanetary craft
by Colin McIntosh,
December 01, 2015
Are you a fan of shows like Doctor Who and Star Trek? Both shows have been around since the 1960s, and, not surprisingly, have generated some of their own vocabulary, some of which has now entered the Cambridge English Dictionary. The phenomenon of fandom, meaning “the state of being a fan of

Read More 

conversational user interface noun
conversational user interface noun
November 30, 2015
a computer interface that provides information to users in normal, conversational speech in response to spoken requests Nearly every major tech company—from Amazon to Intel to Microsoft to Google—is chasing the sort of conversational user interface that Kaplan and his colleagues at PARC imagined decades ago.

Read More