• synonyms


See more synonyms for tank on Thesaurus.com
  1. a large receptacle, container, or structure for holding a liquid or gas: tanks for storing oil.
  2. a natural or artificial pool, pond, or lake.
  3. Military. an armored, self-propelled combat vehicle, armed with cannon and machine guns and moving on a caterpillar tread.
  4. Slang. a prison cell or enclosure for more than one occupant, as for prisoners awaiting a hearing.
  5. tank top.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to put or store in a tank.
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verb (used without object)
  1. Slang. to do poorly or decline rapidly; fail: The movie tanked at the box office.
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Verb Phrases
  1. tank up,
    1. to fill the gas tank of an automobile or other motor vehicle.
    2. Slang.to drink a great quantity of alcoholic beverage, especially to intoxication.
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  1. go in/into the tank, Boxing Slang. to go through the motions of a match but deliberately lose because of an illicit prearrangement or fix; throw a fight.
  2. in the tank, Slang.
    1. failing, doing poorly, or declining: His grades were in the tank last quarter.
    2. favoring, colluding, or assisting in a partisan way (often followed by with or for): The talk-show host was in the tank with the Green Party.
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Origin of tank

1610–20; perhaps jointly < Gujarati tānkh reservoir, lake, and Portuguese tanque, contraction of estanque pond, literally, something dammed up, derivative of estancar (< Vulgar Latin *stanticāre) to dam up, weaken; adopted as a cover name for the military vehicle during the early stages of its manufacture in England (December, 1915)
Related formstank·less, adjectivetank·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for tank

vessel, container, pond, pool, reservoir, keg, cask, cistern, basin, receptacle, vat, cauldron, tub, aquarium

Examples from the Web for tank

Contemporary Examples of tank

Historical Examples of tank

  • "Look at that dog-fish," said Vavasor, pointing to the largest in the tank.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • He appears to think that so distinguished a criminal should have been ducked in a tank of rosewater.

  • For a moment he fancied the tank must be empty, for nothing came of his efforts.

    The Fortune Hunter

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • Peters clubbed Tremont's foot from the tank rack he had hooked with the toe.

    Satellite System

    Horace Brown Fyfe

  • Then Professor Wentworth switched off the current and stepped toward the tank.

    Spawn of the Comet

    Harold Thompson Rich

British Dictionary definitions for tank


  1. a large container or reservoir for the storage of liquids or gasestanks for storing oil
    1. an armoured combat vehicle moving on tracks and armed with guns, etc, originally developed in World War I
    2. (as modifier)a tank commander; a tank brigade
  2. British and US dialect a reservoir, lake, or pond
  3. photog
    1. a light-tight container inside which a film can be processed in daylight, the solutions and rinsing waters being poured in and out without light entering
    2. any large dish or container used for processing a number of strips or sheets of film
  4. slang, mainly US
    1. a jail
    2. a jail cell
  5. Also called: tankful the quantity contained in a tank
  6. Australian a dam formed by excavation
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  1. (tr) to put or keep in a tank
  2. (intr) to move like a tank, esp heavily and rapidly
  3. slang to defeat heavily
  4. (intr) informal to fail, esp commercially
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See also tank up
Derived Formstankless, adjectivetanklike, adjective

Word Origin for tank

C17: from Gujarati tānkh artificial lake, but influenced also by Portuguese tanque, from estanque pond, from estancar to dam up, from Vulgar Latin stanticāre (unattested) to block, stanch
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 tank


1610s, "pool or lake for irrigation or drinking water," a word originally brought by the Portuguese from India, ultimately from Gujarati tankh "cistern, underground reservoir for water," Marathi tanken, or tanka "reservoir of water, tank."

Perhaps from Sanskrit tadaga-m "pond, lake pool," and reinforced in later sense of "large artificial container for liquid" (1680s) by Portuguese tanque "reservoir," from estancar "hold back a current of water," from Vulgar Latin *stanticare (see stanch). But others say the Portuguese word is the source of the Indian ones.

Meaning "fuel container" is recorded from 1902. Military use originated 1915, partly as a code word, partly because they looked like benzene tanks. They were first used in action at Pozieres ridge, on the Western Front, Sept. 15, 1916. Slang meaning "detention cell" is from 1912.

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"to lose or fail," 1976, originally in tennis jargon, but said there to be from boxing, from tank (n.) in some sense. Related: Tanked; tanking. Adjective tanked "drunk" is from 1893.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with tank


In addition to the idiom beginning with tank

  • tank up

also see:

  • think tank
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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.