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could

[ kood; unstressed kuhd ]
/ kʊd; unstressed kəd /
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auxiliary verb
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.
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Origin of could

First recorded in 1450–1500; alteration of late Middle English coude, coud, Old English cūthe; modern -l- from would1, should

usage note for could

See care.

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH could

can, could
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use could in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for could

could
/ (kʊd) /

verb (takes an infinitive without to or an implied infinitive)
used as an auxiliary to make the past tense of can 1
used as an auxiliary, esp in polite requests or in conditional sentences, to make the subjunctive mood of can 1 could I see you tonight?; she'd telephone if she could
used as an auxiliary to indicate suggestion of a course of actionyou could take the car tomorrow if it's raining
(often foll by well) used as an auxiliary to indicate a possibilityhe could well be a spy

Word Origin for could

Old English cūthe; influenced by would, should; see can 1
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

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.
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