Definition of canteen in English:



  • 1A restaurant provided by an organization such as a college, factory, or company for its students or staff.

    • ‘Staff rooms and canteens were filled with fans allowed to delay their work until the final whistle.’
    • ‘The fire was so severe that staff in the canteen of the police station around the corner in Northway could smell smoke.’
    • ‘Instead of people coming up and congratulating me, for saving their summer, I'm getting dirty looks at the bus stop and nobody wants to sit next to me in the staff canteen.’
    • ‘When I worked at the Savoy our morning coffee and buttered croissants always came from either the restaurant or room service rather than the staff canteen.’
    • ‘The boss eats breakfast in the staff canteen every morning and is planning to move his office closer to the rank and file to be more ‘visible and accessible’.’
    • ‘Astley Bridge police station on Crompton Way is in a relatively isolated position, away from shops and food retailers and so staff rely on the canteen to provide them with hot meals and sandwiches.’
    • ‘On block release, I queued for dinner at the college canteen behind Alison and Sam.’
    • ‘Anybody who has seen a fight sequence from a Hindi film which takes place in a college canteen or a restaurant will know the answer.’
    • ‘Even the school canteen - Range Restaurant - is looking at plans to make ready meals available for staff to take home and reheat for themselves and their families.’
    • ‘Working spaces are supported by gyms and games rooms and a host of canteens, restaurants and rest areas.’
    • ‘He will take lunch in a meeting, or chat to staff in the canteen.’
    • ‘Companies will have to close areas such as staff canteens to stop people in different departments infecting each other.’
    • ‘It is also about the activities of college students in the canteen, sports fields and between classes.’
    • ‘The show was originally going to be held in the small training restaurant, but demand was so high the venue was changed to the student canteen.’
    • ‘Scotland's school canteens must become bistro-style restaurants, complete with salad bars and a menu of baguettes and grilled fish, food experts are to tell ministers.’
    • ‘You could read the staff magazine ‘Ariel’ (otherwise known as Pravda) in the staff canteen without being laughed at.’
    • ‘They want decent meals and I am insisting that the food in the staff canteen should be the same as in the racecourse self-service restaurant.’
    • ‘The hall at the Civic Centre is not available during the day because it is used for a staff canteen.’
    • ‘Many businesses in York and the surrounding area will be receiving a request to display posters in their staff rooms and canteens to promote this event.’
    • ‘Many sixth-form colleges said that students had occupied canteens.’
    restaurant, cafeteria, refectory, mess hall
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  • 2A small water bottle, as used by soldiers or campers.

    • ‘The utility belt attached below the vest includes two canteens of water and a nine-millimeter pistol.’
    • ‘Ryne looked to his companion, ‘We did, but that didn't stop them from bring flasks and canteens filled with it.’
    • ‘He gave her water from his canteen, cupped in his hand.’
    • ‘Individual hunters recorded kills of one hundred, then two hundred, from a single stand, pausing only to cool their overheated rifle barrels with canteens of water.’
    • ‘Hotsuma shook his head and reached into his pouch, pulling out 4 canteens of water.’
    • ‘In the belief that wormwood could protect against malaria and dysentery, the French government had issued rations of absinthe to the troops fighting in Algeria, to be mixed with the water in their canteens.’
    • ‘Minutes later Kyrgyz soldiers are thrusting cans of sardines and canteens of water into their hands.’
    • ‘‘You should not feel comfortable,’ Leigha replied, drinking for her animal skin canteen.’
    • ‘CamelBak, whose soft-sided canteens are a hybrid water bottle and backpack, developed a new filtering system to protect U.S. troops in Kuwait from water-borne bacteria.’
    • ‘She was wearing brown hiking boots, a pink backpack, a canteen and a hookshot attached to her belt.’
    • ‘Our weightlifting belts were old military GI belts that soldiers used to carry canteens.’
    • ‘I also threw in two canteens of water and a flashlight (even though we weren't staying out after dark), the map from my office as well as my lensatic compass.’
    • ‘He moves among the students in the encampment checking canteens, to see who has been drinking water.’
    • ‘Soon the guard took his water canteen out of his belt, took a swig, and dropped to the floor, never to wake again.’
    • ‘Calomar grumbled as he dumped some water from his canteen into an old pot and put it on top of the stove.’
    • ‘Carelessly she poured some water from a canteen into the two cups, slopping little drops all about.’
    • ‘Cloud picked himself up and removed a canteen from a nearby soldier's belt.’
    • ‘He dropped the container and the canteen and sprawled onto the ground.’
    • ‘Falnec crumbled a tab of painkiller into his canteen and held the rim of the metal flask to the youth's lips.’
    • ‘You don't just tell your soldiers to fill their canteens with water; you check them before a patrol to make sure they did.’
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  • 3British A specially designed case or box containing a set of cutlery.

    • ‘One tonne of items such as swords, hatchets and entire canteens of cutlery have been confiscated from passengers departing Irish airports in just one month.’
    • ‘Also stolen were a grandfather clock, which had been in the widower's family since the 19th Century, an antique mirror and a silver canteen of cutlery.’
    • ‘Cunningham says canteens of gold or silver cutlery which retailed at around £1,000 each were popular gifts.’
    • ‘Parish council chairman Chris Tennant presented Denese with a canteen of cutlery and a bouquet in recognition of her work over the years, which was often over and above what her contract required.’
    • ‘In years gone by, your granny might have had a canteen of silver cutlery and, at grand dinners, servers fashioned from the precious metal conveyed food from kitchen to table.’
    • ‘For officials at the embassy, he says he offered canteens of gold or silver cutlery which retailed at £1,000 apiece.’


Mid 18th century (originally denoting a shop selling provisions or alcohol in a barracks or garrison town): from French cantine, from Italian cantina ‘cellar’. A French use of cantine denoting a small compartmented case for carrying bottles of wine may have given rise to canteen (sense 3).