See more synonyms for canteen on
  1. a small container used especially by soldiers and hikers for carrying water or other liquids.
  2. a general store and cafeteria at a military base.
  3. a place where free entertainment is provided for military personnel.
  4. a place, as in a factory, school, or summer camp, where refreshments and sometimes personal supplies are sold.
  5. a recreation center or social club, especially for teenagers.
  6. a place set up to dispense food during an emergency.
  7. a snack bar.
  8. British. a box or chest for cutlery and other table utensils.

Origin of canteen

1730–40; < French cantine < Italian cantina cellar, perhaps derivative of canto corner (see cant2) with -ina -ine1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for canteen

flask, jug, bottle, bota, thermos, flacon, flasket

Examples from the Web for canteen

Contemporary Examples of canteen

Historical Examples of canteen

  • This revived him, and he offered us his canteen, in which was some excellent Jamaica.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Set at liberty for the time being, we recruits made for the canteen.

    Adventures and Recollections

    Bill o'th' Hoylus End

  • Ashton had half drained the canteen on the way up the mountain.

    Out of the Depths

    Robert Ames Bennet

  • When they were ready, she filled his canteen for him and took a sip 190 from it “for luck.”

    Out of the Depths

    Robert Ames Bennet

  • Blake dashed his face with the cupful of water still left in the canteen.

    Out of the Depths

    Robert Ames Bennet

British Dictionary definitions for canteen


  1. a restaurant attached to a factory, school, etc, providing meals for large numbers of people
    1. a small shop that provides a limited range of items, such as toilet requisites, to a military unit
    2. a recreation centre for military personnel
  2. a soldier's eating and drinking utensils
  3. a temporary or mobile stand at which food is provided
    1. a box in which a set of cutlery is laid out
    2. the cutlery itself
  4. a flask or canister for carrying water or other liquids, as used by soldiers or travellers

Word Origin for canteen

C18: from French cantine, from Italian cantina wine cellar, from canto corner, from Latin canthus iron hoop encircling chariot wheel; see cant ²
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 canteen

c.1710, "store in a military camp," from French cantine "sutler's shop" (17c.), from Italian cantina "wine cellar, vault," which is perhaps another of the many meanings that were attached to Latin canto "corner;" in this case, perhaps "corner for storage." A Gaulish origin also has been proposed. Extended to "refreshment room at a military base, school, etc." from 1870. Meaning "small tin for water or liquor, carried by soldiers on the march, campers, etc." is from 1744, from a sense in French.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper