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This word is an English word. Why it has been put between the Italian ones?

The pronunciation for Etypomology 1 and 2 differ by just a little. Can anyone confirm? Quackslikeaduck 04:25, 16 November 2005 (UTC)

Yes the verb is sometimes shortened to /kɛn/ instead of /kæn/, but this is given in the entry. Dbfirs 12:32, 26 April 2013 (UTC)

Different Meaning[edit]

One meaning of the verb 'to can' seems forgotten here: to fire someone. However, I don't know enough about the subtleties of English to add it on the page.

  • See the fourth meaning of the second verb. SemperBlotto 22:39, 1 November 2006 (UTC)

"to can"[edit]

Can something be done about the template expansion of the "to be able to" meaning? At the moment it says to can (third-person singular simple present can, present participle -, simple past could, past participle -), and I don't know how it's been historically, but the form "to can" sure isn't used today. -- Coffee2theorems 21:42, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

Done. Cynewulf 21:51, 3 May 2007 (UTC)


I thought dapat meant can (is able to), boleh meant can (has permission to / may), and bisa straddled both meanings. Can anyone confirm this?

[1] lists cans many time over as solely a euphemism for breasts; not buttocks. I think I've seen both uses shown vaguely in movies. The term is too rare in my environment for me to be sure, but I suggest that we add the breast meaning and a tag that it has offensive connotations.


Does can specifically mean a room with a bath in it? If not, rest room may be a better description to not confuse non Americans. 07:33, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

Another sense[edit]

I think the first verb is missing a sense, but I'm at a loss trying to define it. It seems to almost always be used with be, as in "He can be a real jerk sometimes." It implies sometimes (unless another condition is specified - "She can be very hyper when she forgets her medication."), but the sometimes is often included even if it is implied. Ultimateria 23:53, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

tin vs. can in BrE[edit]

I've noticed in BrE that tin is more common for food ("a tin of beans") but almost never used for drink (it's "a can of cola", not a tin of it). I think "can" is also becoming more common for food because of the AmE influence. Just an observation. Equinox 21:32, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

I remember the first time I heard a Brit say "torch", I was like... what? Random and irrelevant, but I wanted to share. lolz — [Ric Laurent] — 21:50, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
When I was a teenager, I asked a female cousin in North America if she could lend me a rubber (eraser). I still cringe! Equinox 21:51, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
Story of the year :D — [Ric Laurent] — 22:02, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, next time you come for a visit, be sure to knock her up. It’s the thought that keeps on giving. —Stephen (Talk) 22:28, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

Two meanings or four?[edit]

I am learning Finnish and have terrible trouble when I wish to say something in Finnish which in English is glossed with the auxiliary verb can. This is because Finnish has FOUR different verbs in which might in English be rendered with CAN. Choosing the right one always causes me to have to stop and think because they are mostly not interchangeable.

1. To have the SKILL needed to do something (In Finnish this is osata)

 e.g.  birds can fly ; linnut osaavat lentää

2. To have the OPTION or POSSIBILITY to do something (In Finnish this is voida)

 e.g.  I can fly from London to Helsinki; voin lentää Lontoosta Helsinkiin

3. To have PERMISSION to do something (In Finnish this is saada)

 e.g.  Can I perhaps fly to Helsinki? ; Saisinko ehkä lentää Helsinkiin?

4. To have the STRENGTH or ENERGY to do something (In Finnish this is pystyä)

 e.g the bird can not fly;  lintu ei pysty lentämään

and of course there is the non-auxiliary verb of can, to put food in tin cans, purkitaa which does not give me any problems because it's something I never do.

In the translations section for the auxiliary we have only TWO possible interpretations

1. TO BE ABLE TO (Which is confusing because it does not distinguish between HAVING THE SKILL OR ABILITY TO (pigeons can fly) or HAVING AN OPTION TO

2. MAY (This is confusing because MAY is either HAVING AN OPTION TO (I can come on Friday =Friday is an option) or HAVING PERMISSION TO (He said I can come on Friday = He said I HAVE PERMISSION to come on Friday). In English we might think of this as essentially the same because they are both about choices depending on whose perspective we are talking from. Indeed the Finnish verb voida is similar to English's can because it can be used to mean both express choice and ask for permission. However, in Finnish saada cannot be used to express choice; only to ask permission or to confirm that permission has been granted. So saada and voida are not perfect synonyms for each other.

I'd suggest that we need many more divisions for the translations.


Which then leaves the problem of how to go about dividing up all the existing translations. There does seem to be some confusion there already. The Portuguese word poder is in both sections but it seems to belong properly in only one of them. I'm not sure how to go about this. 09:12, 26 April 2013 (UTC)

Yes, the OED distinguishes eight separate senses. Should we split ours for translation reasons, or is there so much overlap that distinction is difficult? Dbfirs 12:32, 26 April 2013 (UTC)
Almost all languages make this distinction, it definitelly should be split.--2A00:1028:83D4:436:B465:E7F1:8B87:F847 22:14, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

/nk/ pronunciation[edit]

At first, this may sound weird, but in a sentence such as "We can come and see" the pronunciation goes as /wi:n kam n si:/. at 9:25

Backinstadiums (talk) 00:27, 20 December 2016 (UTC)

Citation for number 9 under "noun"[edit]

It's not Shakespeare, but in the British folk song "Martin Said To His Man", also known as "Who's the Fool Now?", first published 1609, the refrain contains the couplet "Martin said to his man, fill thou the cup and I the can." 03:41, 28 April 2017 (UTC)