Definition of canister in English:



  • 1A round or cylindrical container used for storing such things as food, chemicals, or rolls of film.

    • ‘Pill bottles or film canisters make excellent storage containers for seeds.’
    • ‘Seam rippers and thread nippers slip nicely into empty prescription pill containers or film canisters.’
    • ‘Firefighters were forced to retreat when they realised that the building contained acetylene canisters, gas bottles and diesel barrels.’
    • ‘Sure enough, hidden beneath the bench is a 35 mm film canister containing two pencils and a sheet of paper.’
    • ‘Small coffee cans, peanut jars, or even those little black film canisters, all make decent containers.’
    • ‘Sweet and savory dainties packaged in appealing canisters, baskets and bags are at the heart of the Christmas bazaar.’
    • ‘If you happen to be a reader of the Guardian's letters pages, you'll probably know about the recent exchanges over uses for 35 mm film canisters.’
    • ‘Each of the canisters contain forms for residents to fill in their medical history, including any allergies or regular prescriptions and next of kin.’
    • ‘No longer do you need to transport 50 kilograms of film reels in canisters.’
    • ‘It has two tin-lined oak canisters, which now contain period news cuttings and letters supporting its history.’
    • ‘With this scheme elderly and vulnerable people can have important information about themselves stored inside a canister to assist rescuers called in an emergency.’
    • ‘The Scarecrow is walking through the plant, stopping to pause and check the labels on various canisters of chemicals.’
    • ‘It could be immobilized in canisters and stored in the Yucca Mountains.’
    • ‘What they didn't know was where all of the canisters of bacteria were stored.’
    • ‘The contents of the canisters were liquid chemicals that were highly dangerous.’
    • ‘Each canister contains enough for applications on 13 pairs of cross country skis.’
    • ‘The metal canisters were cylindrical and each one was a little smaller than a tobacco tin.’
    • ‘Then, to add insult to injury, canisters of deadly chemicals began to be washed up in the area.’
    • ‘Therefore, none of the stored projectiles or canisters contain lethal chemical agents.’
    • ‘And 40 homes in Oldham had to be evacuated after a fire at a garage in Barry Street, where oxy-acetylene canisters were stored.’
    tin, canister
    1. 1.1A cylinder of pressurized gas, typically one that explodes when thrown or fired from a gun.
      ‘riot police fired tear-gas canisters into the crowd’
      • ‘Riot police and soldiers fired canisters of tear gas at the protesters as they entered the parliament compound.’
      • ‘At 10 A.M. the police fired the first seven canisters of tear gas into the crowd.’
      • ‘Lasky admitted charges of possessing a CS gas canister and possessing a weapon adapted to discharge a noxious substance.’
    2. 1.2historical mass noun Small bullets packed in cases that fit the bore of a gun.
      ‘another deadly volley of canister’
      • ‘The most common canon was called the Napoleon and used both grape shot and canister ammunition.’
      • ‘The introduction of the rifled musket in the 1850s with ranges greater than canister altered the role of field artillery.’
      • ‘I could run out of mine tomorrow; just like I suppose Buck ran out of his that previous night, one foot doing what years of canister and grape shot had not.’
      • ‘When we got her stern to us we raked her hotly with plenty of grape and canister.’
      • ‘The ammunition encountered by the soldiers was called canister, one of the war's most deadliest rounds.’


Late 15th century (denoting a basket): from Latin canistrum, from Greek kanastron ‘wicker basket’, from kanna ‘cane, reed’ (see cane).