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Definition of Contain, help, just confused

Help on English vocab, including idioms, slang and sayings

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Definition of Contain, help, just confused

Postby kscoyote » Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:47 pm

I know that contain can mean "to hold or inclose within an area or volume"

But how does it work in this example " the list contains the groceries".....there are no physical groceries CONTAINED there, only listed, so what is it that they mean or how is this word being used? Do they mean the groceries are more less expressed, included...one defintion is contain means to 'have as contents, what is spoken or written about" Is this true, how would this be defined? Same with "My idea is contained in the book".....ideas are abstract, the book cannot hold but more or less simply convey the idea.

IS this the sense of contain they are referring too? Please help, Thankyou
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Re: Definition of Contain, help, just confused

Postby ECOSTA » Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:24 pm

Hello, another definition of the verb 'contain' is 'be made up of (a number of things); consist of' and this would apply more to your first example, 'The list contains the groceries'. You are right in saying that the list does not contain any physical groceries, however, the list is made up of a number of grocery items or consists of a number of grocery items. This list will then be used to buy the physical items when shopping at the grocery store. In your second example, 'My idea is contained in the book', once again there are no physical properties in an idea. The definition you mentioned, 'have as contents, what is spoken or written about' would apply to this example. The 'idea' is written about or included in the book. The challenge with vocabulary is that a word may have multiple meanings or may suggest different things based on the context they are being used in. I hope this helps you! Eric.
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