can [1] MODAL VERB (3rd sing. present can; past could) 1) be able to. 2) used to express doubt or surprise: he can't have finished. 3) used to indicate that something is typically the case: he could be very moody. 4) be permitted to.
USAGE On whether it is better to use can or may when requesting permission, see the note at MAY(Cf. ↑may).
ORIGIN Old English, «know».
can [2] NOUN 1) a cylindrical metal container, in particular one in which food or drink is hermetically sealed for long-term storage. 2) (the can) N. Amer. informal prison. 3) (the can) N. Amer. informal the toilet.
VERB (canned, canning) preserve in a can.
a can of worms — Cf. ↑a can of worms
in the can — Cf. ↑in the can
DERIVATIVES canner noun.
ORIGIN Old English.

English terms dictionary. 2015.

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