Definition of tank in English:



  • 1A large receptacle or storage chamber, especially for liquid or gas.

    • ‘New emission limits will be imposed on the company when recycled liquid fuel is used and purpose-built secure on-site storage tanks will be used to store the fuel.’
    • ‘Currently, the plant has two cream storage tanks and three raw milk storage tanks.’
    • ‘With the boiler and storage tanks removed from the cinder block building, that seemed to be the best first place to look.’
    • ‘Its oil refinery and farms of storage tanks disburse petroleum products to much of South-East Asia.’
    • ‘The underground storage tanks for these chemicals (and you can be sure there were many in the Silicon Valley) sometimes leaked.’
    • ‘In Atlanta, a retired attorney of impeccable reputation was arrested for trying to take photos of some storage tanks.’
    • ‘The protest forced the field to halt production in order to prevent its 2,000-barrel storage tanks from overflowing.’
    • ‘Only two tonnes of liquid chlorine spilt from a storage tank after an equipment failure, but it was enough to cause plenty of drama.’
    • ‘Storage tanks will also be built to treat stormwater.’
    • ‘We understand that there is a gas leak and a possible shearing of an oil storage tank as well or a leak in a storage tank.’
    • ‘He had breached several conditions of his licence by failing to notify the Petroleum Licensing Authority of his intention to discontinue the use of petroleum spirit storage tanks.’
    • ‘In fact, the effective storage of most hydro tanks is about 18 percent of the total volume.’
    • ‘As you can see from the figure below, the baffle extends to the top of the tank, and the liquid passes through holes below the water line.’
    • ‘There are temperature controlled fermenters and storage tanks, and good new oak barrels for maturation.’
    • ‘The toxic waste flooded footpaths, flowed through a forest and onto playing fields after the storage tank on the road overflowed.’
    • ‘There are eight raw storage tanks plus an outdoor silo for all liquid ingredients, with capacity totaling 54,000 gallons.’
    • ‘Sperm is traditionally stored in large liquid nitrogen tanks together with a protective chemical that must be removed before fertilisation.’
    • ‘Moreover, much of the water supply is deliberately contaminated by willful destruction of sewers, water pipes and storage tanks.’
    • ‘The rainwater falling on the rooftop, which acts as the catchment area, is directed to the storage tank with the help of specially made channels using PVC pipes.’
    • ‘Probably the best system would have been to run them off natural gas and to have created storage tanks near the pumps in case the gas lines failed.’
    1. 1.1The container holding the fuel supply in a motor vehicle, aircraft, etc.
      ‘the trucks all had a full tank of gasoline’
      • ‘The rear seat sat above the fuel tank, which was accessed via a filler door located low on the body side, just behind the driver's door.’
      • ‘If so, he will not be as quick with a fuller tank of fuel come the first race.’
      • ‘After spinning out in Saturday's qualifying, he would have started in the back of the pack anyway, so his team gave his car a fresh engine and a full tank of fuel as soon as the race started.’
      • ‘In the aftermath of a collision cars with full fuel tanks tend to go up in flames killing the occupants who might have survived the collision.’
      • ‘Fuel tanks in the racing cars are located to the left of the driver so a two-seat conversion requires it to be moved to the rear of the car - no small job.’
      • ‘Then the airflow is diffused, only to be recompressed and diffused again as it moves along the underside of the car past the muffler and the fuel tank.’
      • ‘This is why drivers are asked to turn off their automobile engines, and not smoke, when filling fuel tanks with gasoline.’
      • ‘Self-sealing crashworthy fuel tanks have explosion suppression and non-return valves.’
      • ‘Fuel tanks could be considered the container of the lifeblood of your Mazda.’
      • ‘I get a free car for a week, brand spanking new, with that gorgeous new-car smell and most probably a full tank of petrol, to drive wherever I want?’
      • ‘With a full tank of fuel, the weight bias shifts rearwards slightly, which helps traction, as does the standard limited slip differential.’
      • ‘The fuel tank and exhaust pipe routing were modified slightly to accommodate the new subframe.’
      • ‘In rural areas, there are normally only a few service stations, so when travelling long distances, be sure to leave with a full tank of fuel.’
      • ‘Both plastic fuel tanks and plastic intake manifolds have experienced significant gains since 1995.’
      • ‘But remember, a full tank of fuel costs £77 and lasts just over 300 miles.’
      • ‘The fuel tank still contained gasoline and the majority of rubber hoses and other rubber items were in such condition that they could be reused if wanted.’
      • ‘A look at old race cars, with their exposed fuel tanks and absence of seatbelts, is a sobering reminder of just how vulnerable the drivers once were.’
      • ‘This fitting design actually pressurizes the fuel tank and forces gasoline out of the fill pipe and it flows into the bilge.’
      • ‘He notes, for example that there are additional opportunities for plastic fuel tanks.’
      • ‘The car has been plagued by two recalls and at least six repair notices, ranging from faulty fuel tanks to seat belt flaws.’
      container, receptacle, vat, cistern, barrel, storage chamber, repository, reservoir, holder, basin
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2A receptacle with transparent sides in which to keep fish; an aquarium.
      • ‘I soon go sit down in front of my fish tank and do a little meditation.’
      • ‘A new shark has been introduced with the sand tiger sharks into the tanks of a British aquarium.’
      • ‘After wiping mud from the fish she put it on its side in a tank of water and soon enough it was swimming around.’
      • ‘Feeding guppies in a fish tank has never been so much fun.’
      • ‘Fish were held in large plastic tanks or large aquaria when not being used, and they were fed frozen chironomids and live damselfly larvae.’
      • ‘The first story is about a young Clownfish named Nemo who gets captured from his home in the ocean and wants to escape the domesticated captivity of a fish tank and find his way back to the sea.’
      • ‘Despite the size of the sharks, she felt at ease in the underwater environment and helped clean the tank and feed the aquariums other fish.’
      • ‘The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology will continue to need access to the site to work on its 80 fish tanks.’
      • ‘I would have to say fish - I wanted a dog and my parents got us a fish tank.’
      • ‘The stimulus tanks also were supplied with airstones, but none of the tanks contained filters because they would have impeded the view of both the focal fish and the observer.’
      • ‘At other shops the undercover vets found tarantulas and scorpions within reach of children, fish in murky tanks and ignorant staff who recommended dangerous animals for family homes.’
      • ‘A fish tank bubbled quietly next to the sliding glass doors which looked out upon the lake.’
      • ‘Staff were asked to replace damaged glass tops to aquarium tanks, and they were also told that keeping an incubation facility in the zoo kitchen is ‘inappropriate’.’
      • ‘The aquarium has also done some research and development on pressurized tanks to display fish, but a window on such a system has to be so small that only one or two people can look into a tank at a time.’
      • ‘You can tell that the ‘underwater’ shots are filmed behind a tank of aquarium fish, plastic plants and all.’
      • ‘Custom tanks for large specialty fish can run in the thousands of dollars, plus extra for proper heating and filtration.’
      • ‘One couple was shown exchanging vows submerged in an aquarium tank, diving bells over their heads, while tropical fish swam past.’
      • ‘We were walking through the aquarium, glass fish tanks surrounding us on all sides.’
      • ‘The workers raise chickens, grow their own vegetables, have a fish tank and rent out space for horses.’
      • ‘They garden in the small areas around the house, put out the bird food, and feed the fish in the fish tanks.’
      aquarium, bowl
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3Australian, Indian, NZ A reservoir.
      • ‘The two agencies have been studying the feasibility of building sewage treatment plants around lakes and tanks for the restoration of the water bodies.’
      • ‘What with mandatory water tanks, dual flush toilets, water saving shower heads and front loading washing machines, he is full of bright ideas.’
      • ‘"I have sent proposals to the State Government to target these lakes as potential groundwater recharge tanks," he said, hoping that his plans would come true.’
      • ‘With the light showers, the water level improved in the tank.’
      • ‘Moreover, to stop the waste pouring in from the hamlets around the lake, the department is laying under-lake sewer tanks.’
      • ‘Rainwater tanks and stormwater harvesting are mentioned as alternative water sources but little detail is provided.’
      • ‘What seems to have gone wrong is that many of the storm water drains that followed the natural alignment and drained off excess water into tanks and lakes are no longer in a functional state.’
      • ‘The Thippagondanahalli Reservoir, Bannerghatta National Park and several lakes and tanks are covered for protection and conservation.’
      • ‘Polluted tanks, lakes and rivers, perils faced by the ecosystem and a host of other problems have only reinforced the need to go in for joint action to achieve the desired goals.’
      • ‘About five million families – mostly rural – still fetch drinking water from ponds, tanks, rivers and springs.’
      • ‘The other seven tanks were also desilted and water level rose in the surrounding areas.’
      • ‘The water available in villages is drawn from wells sunk in tanks and lakes.’
      • ‘The water tanks are phase one of a water improvement programme for the island and the next phase will involve building a public reservoir, he says.’
      • ‘The Government should initiate a census of water resources in the State such as the number of wells, ponds and tanks and necessary law should be framed to protect these resources.’
      • ‘Again, the Building Code could require that new houses have water tanks so that the demand for water from reticulated services is reduced.’
      • ‘Clouds gather, sometimes developing into a cyclone but will a water-starved Chennai see its tanks, lakes, wells and reservoirs full this year?’
      • ‘This year the tank has a good water level even by end May.’
      • ‘In spite of being the second largest arid zone in the country, Karnataka has been a blessed State with plenty of rainfall in the catchment areas of its rivers, lakes and tanks.’
      • ‘Through the ages, Indian agriculture has been sustained by natural and man-made water bodies such as lakes, tanks, ponds and similar structures.’
      • ‘We had a small tank to catch the rain water from the roof, but we never used this for drinking purposes, and anyway it lasted only a few days unless rain fell at regular intervals.’
  • 2A heavy armoured fighting vehicle carrying guns and moving on a continuous articulated metal track.

    • ‘Both tanks contained full combat loads of high explosive rounds, as well as .50 caliber and 7.62 rounds.’
    • ‘The mission of the aircraft is ground attack against tanks, armoured vehicles and installations, and close air support of ground forces.’
    • ‘Also for sale are evocative photographs of the Queen's Park works which was switched from making steam locomotives to producing tanks during the Second World War.’
    • ‘There is no doubt we have the finest tanks and infantry fighting vehicles in the world.’
    • ‘First, the front warhead destroys the reactive armour and then the rear warhead has free passage to penetrate the main body armour of the tank.’
    • ‘In short, tanks and troops alone will not win this struggle.’
    • ‘Other reports indicated that hundreds of people were being indiscriminately mowed down by tanks and armoured vehicles in various suburbs.’
    • ‘Within a week, Hitler had occupied the Sudetenland, and six months later German tanks rolled into Prague.’
    • ‘They fought tanks, armored personnel carriers, jets and precision munitions with Datsun pickups.’
    • ‘My tanks reached the northern side of the bridge leading to Saigon.’
    • ‘Correspondingly, would Rommel have achieved even greater success with his tactical genius and an endless supply of tanks and fuel?’
    • ‘The Marines have captured two bridges and moved hundreds of tanks, armoured vehicles, fuel trucks, Humvees and other military vehicles across them in the past few days.’
    • ‘In the late hours of 16 November tanks, armoured vehicles and elite army units started to move towards the city centre.’
    • ‘Sophisticated hardware including helicopters, tanks and armoured vehicles is often useless because it is an easy target for enemies.’
    • ‘There were tanks on both sides of the border and his regime imprisoned many Soviet sympathizers (real or just suspected).’
    • ‘The helicopters, accompanied by tanks and heavy Bradley fighting vehicles, arrived later than many expected.’
    • ‘Following its use as a storage site for tanks during the war, the road has been kept usable by constant patching up.’
    • ‘That night the cabinet rounded up the strike leaders and flooded Glasgow with tanks and trainloads of troops to break the strike.’
    • ‘It was used in Baghdad last year to attack side streets where tanks were thought to be hiding.’
    • ‘Among the advantages, few of the Army's tanks and armored fighting vehicles were lost to enemy action, and in most cases, their crews survived.’
    armoured vehicle, armoured car, combat vehicle
    View synonyms
  • 3

    ‘a large class of 0-6-0 tanks’
    short for tank engine
  • 4North American informal A cell in a police station or jail.

    • ‘I got thrown in once when I was underage, not to eventful though...tried to get a cop to drive me home, he said sure and drove me straight to the tank.’
    • ‘And don't refrain from telling your friends: Among drunks, the real ones anyway, a night in the tank is a very large feather in the drinking cap.’
    • ‘Get thrown in the tank and they let me out at 6am and give me back my shoe laces and bifocal sunglasses I don't even remember them and just kind of smiled when the girl was emptying the bag.’
    dungeon, oubliette, lock-up, prison
    View synonyms
  • 5

    short for tank top
    • ‘The men wear khakis and cornflower-blue shirts, the women dressy tanks and knee-length skirts.’
    • ‘This season, remember to stock up on simple shirts with sleeves of all lengths and tanks.’
    • ‘Her eyes were pink and puffy and from what I could see she was wearing only a black tank and her underwear.’
    • ‘Wear it over your favorite camisole or tank for a cool night out.’
    • ‘I ran out of my house wearing a hot pink mini skirt and a black tank over it I had a black long sleeved fishnet shirt.’
    • ‘She had been using the sweatpants as pajama bottoms and her new tank as a pajama top.’
    • ‘After some tough decisions I decided to wear a black mini skirt and a crimson shirt with a white tank underneath.’
    • ‘She'd put me in low, hip hugger jeans, a blue tank and a denim jacket.’
    • ‘I see a lot of girls on campus wearing tanks with their skirts.’
    • ‘I dressed in a white tank, jeans, and a matching denim jacket.’
    • ‘But I think that I will wear my pink tank with a jean skirt.’
    • ‘Sheer jerseys layer over t-shirts, vests and tanks.’
    • ‘Close-fitting tees and tanks with loose pants work best.’
    • ‘Belly-bearing tanks, and halter dresses emphasized every curve on the mom-to-be.’
    • ‘Shown here is the aqua tiny tank that is perfect over one of those hot new bathing suits.’
    • ‘She turned around and started to pick through his shirt drawer, once again, and came out with a white tank and another shirt that buttoned up.’
    • ‘Are the boots able to be worn in the spring if pared with a short denim skirt and tank or are they snow boots?’
    • ‘I pulled on my silky pink lace tank, and my black tie jeans.’
    • ‘He had shining blue eyes and was wearing something I definitely liked: Cargo khaki pants, a white tank with a Hawaiian shirt.’
    • ‘She picked up a robe that was laying across a stool, and slipped it on, after she had dressed in her usual black tank and trousers.’


  • 1[no object] Fill the tank of a vehicle with fuel.

    ‘the cars stopped to tank up’
    • ‘"Let's go down to the town, tank the car up, get some flowers for your mother, and have lunch in MacDonald's".’
    • ‘As gasoline prices climb ever higher and the U.S. Senate backs oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the possibility of a hydrogen economy – where drivers tank up on clean-burning hydrogen fuel – gleams more brightly.’
    • ‘No drop in petrol prices so people will still head south to tank up while no drop in corporation tax means foreign investors will still favour the Irish Republic.’
    • ‘Last August, GM showed the result: a gasoline processor that could allow fuel cell vehicles to tank up at local gas stations.’
    • ‘Yesterday evening, when I'd recovered from the journey, I went over to Minehead for provisions and to tank up the car.’
    • ‘The trick is figuring out how to hold hydrogen safely and at sufficient density to allow a typical car to go 500 kilometers or so before having to tank up.’
    1. 1.1British informal Drink heavily; become drunk.
      ‘they get tanked up before the game’
      • ‘The ‘not so bright’ builder was tanked up on booze and decided that it would be fun to fire a loaded 11 mm pistol in a public area.’
      • ‘Did the previous writers mention that they dressed like they were hitting the beach at 3.00 a.m. tanked up on beer?’
      • ‘Fortified by carry-outs of strong lager and vodka, he would get tanked up before setting out to cause mayhem in the area.’
      • ‘It's unlicensed so if you need some bevvies to jumble up the courage, get tanked up elsewhere.’
      • ‘With most everyone tanked and soaked, the 10-hour nighttime drive to the Lake was unanimously the worst of the entire trip.’
      • ‘They were apparently all going to an under-18 disco at the Club in Swanley and had decided to get tanked up beforehand.’
      • ‘You can tank up on powerful Sake while you dine on their noodles, and you can knock back Martinis and Cosmos in the bar later on when the fashion elite make their entrances.’
      • ‘He was reclining in his chair getting tanked on Uncle's home brew.’
      • ‘So we were tanking up, smoking, talking nonsense, enjoying the once-a-month concession to our younger selves our wives allow us.’
      • ‘The gist of it is, two fans are leaving a game, slightly tanked.’
      • ‘They get out some booze and proceed to get tanked up like my Uncle at the ‘Family Reunion.’’
      • ‘Perhaps alcohol consumption would be more responsible if fans could drink at grounds rather than feeling the need to get tanked up before the game.’
      • ‘He, once it opened, headed straight to the bar, as if he hadn't drunk enough porter and whiskey and proceeded to tank up again.’
      • ‘‘This will result in either people staying in and drinking or getting tanked up before they go out,’ he said.’
      • ‘You all know those kinds of drunks that no matter how tanked they get they still seem to get keep their wits.’
      • ‘I was a cadet officer in those times - and I was a well-behaved one, before he tells me anything different - and one of the junior engineers got tanked up on a Greek plane with a Greek captain in charge.’
      • ‘They are all out getting tanked in the marquee, as most members opposite were until a few minutes ago.’
      • ‘A reasonable person would not be with the drunk driver while he's getting even more tanked up and still put him back behind the wheel.’
      • ‘Rather, it's the ones who travel to another country without any grasp of the language, get tanked up on booze, and sing ‘Two World Wars and One World Cup’ every time they see a German.’
      • ‘"They're getting tanked up on those alcopop drinks and by the time it comes to midnight they're all over the place," he said.’
  • 2US informal [no object] Fail completely, especially at great financial cost.

    ‘the previous movie had tanked at the box office’
    • ‘After a shaky second quarter, real gross domestic product entered the third quarter with a good head of steam even as the stock market was tanking.’
    • ‘It has been widely reported that profits have tanked over the past two years for OEMs and large publicly traded parts suppliers.’
    • ‘The sense that a candidate is tanking - or on a roll - can make the difference between a potential donor making a contribution or keeping his checkbook in his pocket.’
    • ‘Dot-coms may tank, but the empty offices they leave behind don't look quite as ugly.’
    • ‘Some of these workers lost tens of thousands of dollars, in addition to their jobs, when the stock tanked and the company went bankrupt.’
    • ‘The fact the film tanked at the box office is likely an indication it's out of its time, culturally speaking.’
    • ‘As he points out, because of the market's gradual appreciation through the years – despite occasionally tanking as it did this spring – the longer the time horizon lower the variability of return on investment.’
    • ‘But if the market continues to slide, the recession rears up, and Republican numbers keep tanking, it will take more than the gerrymanderer's art to keep him in control of the House.’
    • ‘For a movie that was so different, it should surprise no one that the movie tanked at the box office and was generally reviled by the critical press.’
    • ‘As the rest of Asia's economies tanked during the financial crisis that began in 1997, Taiwan remained afloat.’
    • ‘Subsequently, the film tanked at the box office, proving that when terror is on the rise, folks don't want to spend nine dollars to watch even more realistic horror unfold in their local multiplex.’
    • ‘While most of the recent rash of trashy comedies tanked at the box office, I would not be surprised if at least some made money anyways with such low budgets.’
    • ‘I know a great deal about movies - what's tanking, what's opened wide, what's in turnaround, what the buzz is.’
    • ‘After all, during the Gulf War, sales of large gas-consuming vehicles literally tanked.’
    • ‘Had the book tanked and gone the deep discount route of so many widely unwanted Canadian books, it would have seemed highly irregular for us to wonder why it had failed to connect with people.’
    • ‘But, when the movie tanked, all bets for a sequel were off.’
    • ‘That's because it's easy to point to the organization if a project tanks or gets cut off because of a perceived security hole.’
    • ‘He was also a billionaire for a few months before the stock tanked.’
    • ‘After the music stopped and the stock tanked and they collapsed into bankruptcy, everyone on Wall Street pretended to be absolutely shocked that such a thing could happen.’
    • ‘The reason you haven't heard of them is because they tanked at the box office.’
    1. 2.1North American [with object](in sport) deliberately lose or fail to finish (a match)
      ‘the powerful baseliner had tanked the match’
      • ‘They simply tanked in the play-offs when he had to sit out with a hip injury…’
      • ‘In fact reports say he even had to dodge the question of whether the Indians tanked the match!’
      • ‘And I always tried my best; I wouldn't tank matches.’
      • ‘That would explain why the team tanked deceptively early this season, before suspicion could be aroused.’
      • ‘No, but while some teams choose to tank, others have a tanked season forced upon them.’
      • ‘People who accuse teams of tanking it in order to get a higher draft pick don't understand the mentality that is prevalent in the National Football League.’
      • ‘When asked last week about the possibility of a team tanking in the final days to improve its playoff position, the deputy commissioner said the league was not concerned.’
      • ‘On the other hand, maybe they knew what the evil player was up to and tanked to deprive him of one last baseball thrill.’
      • ‘There are any numbers of instances where top players have ‘tanked’ first round matches just to get home early.’
      • ‘Unless you'd rather believe that the Yankee hitters all hate him and are tanking deliberately in games when he starts.’
      • ‘The team would see a spike in attendance, and depending on how bad he is, could actually get worse without looking like they're tanking to get the top draft pick.’
      • ‘The team begins this season with a thrilling comeback against Washington State, then tanks the next three games.’
      • ‘Fair or not, the team has earned a reputation as a team that tanks in tough situations.’
      • ‘They became the second straight team with a top-ranked offense to tank on Super Bowl Sunday.’
  • 3Scottish informal [with object] Defeat heavily.

    ‘Rangers tanked the local side 8–0’
    • ‘By the brutal code of Hollywood, if your big-budget television series isn't tanking the opposition after the first five episodes, it risks being binned.’
    • ‘The team did do, tanked us 3-0 and stayed up.’
    • ‘That must have been such a shaming thing to go back up to Manchester with: 6-3 by a team with the tiniest ground in the world and we tanked them.’
    • ‘Our next game is against Ireland, who were tanked by England yesterday.’
    • ‘Do you see those guys really tanking him in 2004?’
    beat, conquer, win against, win a victory over, triumph over, prevail over, get the better of, best, worst, vanquish
    View synonyms


Early 17th century: perhaps from Gujarati tānkũ or Marathi tānkẽ underground cistern, from Sanskrit tadāga pond, probably influenced by Portuguese tangue pond, from Latin stagnum. The military vehicle took its name from the use of tank as a secret code word during manufacture in 1915.