Definition of tin in English:


nounPlural tins

  • 1mass noun A silvery-white metal, the chemical element of atomic number 50.

    Tin is quite a rare element, occurring chiefly in the mineral cassiterite. Pure crystalline tin exists in two allotropic modifications, the metallic form (white tin), and a semimetallic form (grey tin). It is used in various alloys, notably bronze, and for electroplating iron or steel sheets to make tinplate

    • ‘Bronze is made with tin added to copper and brass has zinc in the alloy.’
    • ‘These early metal users had not yet learned to alloy copper with tin to make bronze.’
    • ‘By the late 16th century Acheh had reduced the power of Johore and controlled much of Sumatra and Malaya, deriving its wealth from pepper and tin.’
    • ‘A century ago, before stainless steel was widely available, winery equipment was often made of iron, copper, or bronze, an alloy of copper and tin.’
    • ‘In colonial Burma, valuable resources of oil, tin, and rubber were more fully exploited and commercial rice cultivation was developed.’
    • ‘In every case except tin, known reserves have actually grown since the report; in some cases they have quadrupled.’
    • ‘First came copper, used in an unalloyed form, and then the superior alloy of copper and tin known as bronze.’
    • ‘Commercially pure tin is used for soldering side seams of cans for special food products and aerosol sprays.’
    • ‘It had blamed the illegal miners for causing a drop in the international price of tin.’
    • ‘Well, lead and tin together as an alloy figure in the solders that are used to solder on the printed circuit boards.’
    • ‘Plywood ranked fourth after black pepper, tin, and rubber.’
    • ‘Singapore became an important trading centre, and Malaya exported rubber and tin.’
    • ‘Tin combined with copper made bronze; and tin combined with lead made pewter.’
    • ‘It's pewter - an alloy of tin and lead with traces of copper, iron, and nickel.’
    • ‘Bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, has been used to make sculptural objects as early as the seventh millennium BC.’
    • ‘Knowledge of the new alloy spread slowly, mainly because of the scarcity of tin, so the Bronze Age tends to have widely different dates in different parts of the world.’
    • ‘Alloyed with tin, copper makes bronze, and combined with zinc, it makes brass.’
    • ‘The most important use of tin in the United States is the manufacture of solder, an alloy made of tin and lead.’
    • ‘Some of it they gamble on the price of tin, or the dollar going down, or whether there'll be floods in Asia.’
    • ‘Different materials are used - brass, tin, galvanised iron and pewter.’
    1. 1.1
      short for tinplate
      • ‘I like the leg room, and I demand a car made of steel, not tin.’
      • ‘Instead most graves are marked with a steel stake and a piece of rusting tin bearing a number.’
      • ‘The hundreds of homes here are made of pressed cardboard and rusting tin.’
      • ‘Using lighter material such as plywood, acrylic sheet, tin, stainless steel and cloth has also made transportation easier.’
    2. 1.2British dated, informal Money.
      ‘Kim's only in it for the tin’
      • ‘I didn't really have the proper tin to do it in, so made it in a long flat baking dish and it came out more like a Quorn sausage sponge cake, which is not necessarily a good thing.’
      money, wealth, finance, finances, funds, cash, hard cash, lucre, filthy lucre, wherewithal, means, assets, liquid assets, capital, resources, reserves, deep pockets
      View synonyms
  • 2An airtight container made of tinplate or aluminium.

    ‘Albert got out the biscuit tin’
    • ‘The good housewife always had homemade cake or biscuits in the tins.’
    • ‘Protesters are invited to bring kazoos, whistles, pots, pans and biscuit tins and to meet at 11.30 am at Speakers Corner.’
    • ‘Their smiling faces appeared everywhere; in newspapers and magazines, in flickering newsreels, on the lids of chocolate boxes and biscuit tins.’
    • ‘I forgo interaction with eight biscuit tins surmounted by illuminated photographs.’
    • ‘The tins from the butter cookies you got for Christmas, the wire clothes hangers from the drycleaners, pads of paper from your realtor - no one is going to buy it.’
    • ‘Mince Pies can be stored in an airtight tin for up to a week or put them in the freezer for 5-6 weeks.’
    • ‘When slightly cool to handle, shape into ladoos and store in an airtight tin when completely cool.’
    • ‘There were bags of flour on the floor, lumps of doughs on chairs, bottles of fruit and nuts in boxes, and towers of biscuit tins and cookie-making things in doorways.’
    • ‘You never see them scurrying to school, as we did, with baskets and biscuit tins containing ingredients.’
    • ‘Materials ranged from oil paint, house paint and wire to dental floss, toothpicks and cookie tins.’
    • ‘The base of his motor was a tea chest, a biscuit tin housed the projection lamp, scanning discs were cut from cardboard, and he also utilised four-penny cycle lenses.’
    • ‘Look for containers at garage sales and discount places during the year such as jars, baskets, tins and canisters.’
    • ‘One of my strongest early memories is the old corner store with its wooden floor, wooden bench and tins full of packets of biscuits.’
    • ‘‘You can't have my coin,’ said Tony, as Mrs Hawthorne added the pound note to the biscuit tin.’
    • ‘And, as you'd expect, all things Elvis clutter the shelves, from figurines to drinking glasses to wallets to tins to plates to clocks to jukeboxes to lamps to cookie jars.’
    • ‘Has one of those tins ever actually contained a Danish Butter Cookie?’
    • ‘Much of the material was wrapped in old newspaper, or was contained in tobacco tins, biscuit tins, pill boxes and the like.’
    • ‘If you are interested in making an Aromatic Christmas Decoration you are requested to please bring along a real orange, some cloves, and a biscuit tin.’
    • ‘Photo collections in biscuit tins and shoe boxes mediated the void left by this absence of myth and history.’
    • ‘If I should feel hungry between meals I eat a piece of fruit rather than raiding the cake tin or the biscuit barrel.’
    container, receptacle, repository, holder, carrier
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    1. 2.1British An airtight sealed container for preserving food, made of tinplate or aluminium; a can.
      ‘she had opened a tin of beans’
      • ‘I sat in bed to keep warm, and ate the only food I had - a tin of condensed milk.’
      • ‘I left for the studios on time, though, which was good, and took a tin of toffee with me that we could eat during the show but I subsequently forgot to take out of my bag so it's come home with me.’
      • ‘I usually dug deep, handing over some coins or a tin of beans.’
      • ‘The property was next to an unfenced lake and there was no food except for a tin of pasta that was out of date.’
      • ‘Not only was the room in a filthy state, the food cupboard contained just a tin of mushy peas, baked beans and corned beef.’
      • ‘Not only did the first division leaders pick him up on a free, but rather than superstar wages he's happy with a bowl of milk and a tin of cat food.’
      • ‘I have just had a look in our cupboard, and if someone can sell me some whipping cream and a tin of mandarin oranges I could knock up a reasonably good trifle.’
      • ‘I had a tin of tomatoes on toast last night for my dinner.’
      • ‘We had loads of unmarked tins, and we never knew whether we were going to open a tin of beans or a tin of pears!’
      • ‘I just ate a tin of mandarin segments and now it's raining.’
      • ‘I can empty a tin of cat food into a bowl, give a dog a bone, but never, ever, have I let any sort of animal eat out of my hand.’
      • ‘A logo on a tin of cat food might seem to have little to do with these wider issues but really they are all connected.’
      • ‘Armed with a tin of paste and a brush, he turned out at 3am every morning in all weathers with a bag of contents bills with the headlines of the day.’
      • ‘Customers were invited to put a tin of food in it for the poor.’
      • ‘Rumours abound that the chef responded by adding a tin of Campbell's tomato soup and pinch of spices to the meat and so Britain's most popular dish was born.’
      • ‘I bought a tin of chopped tomatoes the other day, and the picture on the tin showed a bowl simply filled up with chopped tomatoes.’
      • ‘It could be toast or a tin of beans, and we drink tea.’
      • ‘And besides, they have been providing entertainment in exchange for a tin of dog food per day.’
      • ‘Is it best just to accept that you're a record company asset and opt to play dead as you're reprogrammed, repackaged and resold with all the dignity of a tin of beans?’
    2. 2.2 The contents of a tin.
      ‘how many tins of paint would it take?’
      • ‘If I eat any more tins of tuna fish, I'm going to turn into a dolphin.’
      • ‘I used to live on tins of beans and ravioli that I would heat up in my room.’
      • ‘My bottles and tins are taken to the local supermarket, I do not want the residents of Huntington to know how many tins of amber nectar or bottles of Scotland's finest product I have consumed during the week.’
      • ‘Despite my best efforts I have failed to consume 20 kg of pasta, 30 jars of peanut butter and 50 tins of beans in the last month.’
      • ‘Then the meat went in and cooked for a long while, followed by a couple of tins of kidney beans.’
    3. 2.3British An open metal container for baking food.
      ‘grease a 450g loaf tin’
      • ‘Spoon into lightly greased muffin tins and bake at 200 degrees C for about 12-15 minutes.’
      • ‘If old, these should be cut up and baked in a tin with chickens.’
      • ‘Place into a greased loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes.’
      • ‘Pour into the baking tin and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until crusty on top and still a bit squidgy inside.’
      • ‘Grease the tin and line with baking parchment, then arrange the quince quarters over the base.’
      • ‘Pour into the prepared tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25-30 minutes until just firm to the touch.’
      • ‘Grease a loaf tin with plenty of butter and press the mixture in.’
      • ‘Spoon into two base-lined 23 cm sponge tins and bake at 180C / 350F / Gas 4 for 30 minutes.’
      • ‘Open storage above the ovens and below the cooktop let her grab a pie tin or skillet without opening a cabinet door first.’
      • ‘Line the bottom of the baking tin with baking parchment.’
      • ‘Place in two well-greased 18 cm tins and bake for 30 mins in moderate oven.’
      • ‘Also, it is shaped like a loaf and may indeed be baked in a loaf tin or something similar.’
      • ‘Pour the batter mix into the loaf tin and bake for approx 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.’
      • ‘Yorkshire puddings are made with a batter similar to pancake or clafouti mix, then baked in a tin until they rise.’
      • ‘Line the base of the tin with baking paper over the base, then attach the ring piece.’
      • ‘Pour the finished batter into the cake tin and bake for approximately 1 hour or until the cake becomes firm and springy to the touch, when lightly pressed in the middle.’
      • ‘Pour into the prepared tins and bake for about 30-35 minutes, until the surface of the cake springs back when lightly pressed.’
      • ‘If the frying seems like a lot of bother, grease a tin, press all the mixture in, and bake in a moderate oven until brown on top.’
      • ‘Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.’
      • ‘Place the birds in a roasting tin, open out their legs and trickle over the melted butter through a sieve.’
    4. 2.4British A rectangular loaf of bread baked in an open metal container.

verbtins, tinned, tinning

[with object]
  • Cover with a thin layer of tin.

    ‘the copper pans are tinned inside’
    • ‘These alloys can be tinned although some compositions are more suitable than others.’
    • ‘She began the third game by tinning another of the backhand drop shots that her heretofore served her so well, and just like that Kitchen seized that small opening and wedged it much wider by racing off with five quick points.’
    • ‘Another way to obtain a compatible coating is by tinning the stainless steel with a high-silicon aluminum alloy.’
    • ‘I tinned some small speaker wires, but found that soldering and splicing wires is questionable depending on the size of the wire.’
    • ‘Now, turn on your soldering iron, and tin all of your stripped wires.’
    conserve, bottle, can, pot, chill, freeze, freeze-dry, quick-freeze, dry, desiccate, dehydrate
    View synonyms


  • do (exactly) what it says on the tin

    • informal Perform as advertised or as one would expect judging by name or reputation.

      ‘a big budget Hollywood film that does what it says on the tin’
      • ‘This film does exactly what it says on the tin: eight-legged freaks are what it promises to deliver, and eight-legged freaks are what come tumbling out of the crate.’
      • ‘By its own admission, his third novel fails to do what it says on the tin.’
      • ‘If you want a straight-talking candidate that does exactly what it says on the tin, then vote for her.’
      • ‘This book does exactly what it says on the tin: it is packed with gorgeous images of places that you really, really want to visit.’
      • ‘It's instant messenger software—it does what it says on the tin.’
      • ‘A Brief History of Crime doesn't quite do what it says on the tin.’
      • ‘Failing to realise that an option marked 'delete' doesn't do what it says on the tin isn't stupidity; it's lack of familiarity.’
      • ‘This blog has been reviewed by The Weblog Review, a site which does exactly what it says on the tin.’
      • ‘As a tool, I don't think there's anything wrong with the wish list; it does what it says on the tin.’
  • have a tin ear

    • informal Be tone-deaf.

      ‘anyone can tune a piano with it—you can actually have a tin ear’
      figurative ‘the company has had a tin ear for hearing what customers want’
      • ‘But when it comes to portraying certain American cultural expressions, the BBC seems to have a tin ear.’
      • ‘The company has had a tin ear for hearing what customers want in recent years.’
      • ‘But our president simply has a tin ear for how to speak to people.’
      • ‘In so many places, the lectionary seems to have a tin ear, without regard for the artistic, musical, dramatic quality of biblical texts.’
      • ‘Add to this that I have a tin ear for US politics, and my qualifications for commenting on last week's election, and giving my liberal friends tips on how to warm their eggs and suckle their young are complete.’
      • ‘I like this one because it challenges scholars who are influential but apparently have a tin ear for what the New Testament writers were trying to communicate to their first readers, namely, a new kind of participation in divine power.’
      • ‘Cool, unless you have a tin ear or prefer pottery.’
      • ‘He has a tin ear for politics - no, metallurgists of the future will toil for years to discover exactly what unusual material his ears are made from.’
      • ‘I have to say, the administration, since Election Day, has had a tin ear on a couple of things, I think.’
      • ‘For an antidote to the sugary Broadway show, I always wondered if at least one of the kids had a tin ear and the rhythm of a stutterer.’
  • put the tin lid on

    • Be the culmination of a series of acts or events that makes a situation unbearable.

      ‘injury scares put the tin lid on a desperately troubled week’


Old English, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch tin and German Zinn.