a simple past tense of can1.
(used to express possibility): I wonder who that could be at the door. That couldn't be true.
(used to express conditional possibility or ability): You could do it if you tried.
(used in making polite requests): Could you open the door for me, please?
(used in asking for permission): Could I borrow your pen?
(used in offering suggestions or advice): You could write and ask for more information. You could at least have called me.
- can, could
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use could in a sentence
Note: These are only a handful of many aborted could-be classics.Doomed Passion Projects of Hollywood: The Lost Classics of Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, and More | Marlow Stern | March 28, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Many men (and women) evaluated Sarah Palin, the could-have-been GOP vice president from Alaska, based on her appearance.Everyday Sexism Creator Laura Bates on Helping Women Speak Out | Anna Klassen | April 9, 2013 | THE DAILY BEAST
Is this year's Sundance sales frenzy a direct result of last year's little-movie-that-could?
Jerry Brown, California's once and could-be future governor, is a master of reinvention, just like the pop icon.
That ugly fellow who swore at me the day before was in the boat, and I c-could understand him.Ben Comee | M. J. (Michael Joseph) Canavan
And Glora and Alan—in our present size-could doubtless disembark safely.Astounding Stories, March, 1931 | Various
If only she could summon him from the moonlight out there; if only she were a witch-could see him, know where he was, what doing!Saint's Progress | John Galsworthy
He was all innuendo and strange hints and whispered secrets, and I-could-if-I-woulds.Nights | Elizabeth Robins Pennell
Anthony said you-could hear Emmy's tongue striking the roof of her-mouth all thee time.The Tree of Heaven | May Sinclair
British Dictionary definitions for could
used as an auxiliary to indicate suggestion of a course of action: you could take the car tomorrow if it's raining
(often foll by well) used as an auxiliary to indicate a possibility: he could well be a spy
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
Other Idioms and Phrases with could
see can (could) do with; see with half an eye, could. Also see under can; couldn't.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.