adjective Informal.

marked by purposefulness and efficiency: a can-do executive.


the quality of being efficient and enthusiastic.

Origin of can-do

First recorded in 1900–05 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for can-do

Contemporary Examples of can-do

  • We all know a few Elizabeth Banks—people who cruise through life at a steady clip of can-do energy.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Where's Your Willpower?

    Casey Schwartz

    November 24, 2010

  • Why is our can-do country, tied at inception to the pursuit of happiness, so reliably interested in visions of its own demise?

    The Daily Beast logo
    A Great Dystopian Novel

    Taylor Antrim

    March 30, 2010

  • I argued he should be moved over to a political adviser slot, where his considerable, can-do talents would better serve his boss.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Rumbling Over Rahm

    Leslie H. Gelb

    February 22, 2010

  • On the other end of the phone was my Grandma Rose, a can-do matriarch calling from her home on Avenue U, six blocks away.

    The Daily Beast logo
    My Man Crush on JFK, Jr.

    Mark Katz

    July 16, 2009

  • Americans are can-do people who will quickly fix their problems if allowed to do so in a rational context.

Historical Examples of can-do

  • A tug, the Gando, immediately re-named the Can-do, brought out our lighters of coal.

    The Bonadventure

    Edmund Blunden

British Dictionary definitions for can-do



confident and resourceful in the face of challengesa can-do attitude
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for can-do

by 1952, from expression can do "it is possible," literally "(I or we) can do (it)," 1903, perhaps based on earlier no can do (see no).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper