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  1. #1
    alkaspeltzar is offline Member
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    Default Help understanding the word "CONTAIN" in certain usages

    What do we really mean when we say:

    "The list contains the people" or "My ideas are contained in the book"

    I get contained can mean hold, as in "my cup holds/contains water", but in my two examples above, isn't it being used abstractly? I mean a list is not physically holding people, but just mentioning them. As are my idea, they are more or less represented or embodied by the book.

    So it begs the question, what does contain mean really in these examples and how can they use it?

    Just confused, i read the dictionaries, but then seems to just confuse me more and give little help. Hoping someone could dumb down the explanation of the meaning for me. Thanks

  2. #2
    bhaisahab's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help understanding the word "CONTAIN" in certain usages

    Quote Originally Posted by alkaspeltzar View Post
    What do we really mean when we say:

    "The list contains the people" or "My ideas are contained in the book"

    I get contained can mean hold, as in "my cup holds/contains water", but in my two examples above, isn't it being used abstractly? I mean a list is not physically holding people, but just mentioning them. As are my idea, they are more or less represented or embodied by the book.

    So it begs the question, what does contain mean really in these examples and how can they use it?

    Just confused, i read the dictionaries, but then seems to just confuse me more and give little help. Hoping someone could dumb down the explanation of the meaning for me. Thanks
    What do you find difficult about this definition? contain verb (HOLD) - definition in British English Dictionary & Thesaurus - Cambridge Dictionary Online

  3. #3
    alkaspeltzar is offline Member
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    Default Re: Help understanding the word "CONTAIN" in certain usages

    I guess what I find difficult is what someone means when they say "The list contains people"

    To me, the list is not containing anything, just listing it. So the definition of contain as hold, sounds wrong.

    OR by contain, do they mean "just to include, have to do with or associated within"?

    That is the part of the definition i do not get and i am just confused by. So I am looking for more clarification on the definition. Most dictionaries just provide synomoyns, it is not helpful

  4. #4
    bhaisahab's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help understanding the word "CONTAIN" in certain usages

    Quote Originally Posted by alkaspeltzar View Post
    I guess what I find difficult is what someone means when they say "The list contains people"

    To me, the list is not containing anything, just listing it. So the definition of contain as hold, sounds wrong.

    OR by contain, do they mean "just to include, have to do with or associated within"?

    That is the part of the definition i do not get and i am just confused by. So I am looking for more clarification on the definition. Most dictionaries just provide synomoyns, it is not helpful
    I find "My ideas are contained in the book" perfectly acceptable, the sentence fits the definition I posted perfectly. I don't find "This list contains the people coming to the party" very natural, however. I would be much more likely to say "This is a list of the people coming to the party"

  5. #5
    alkaspeltzar is offline Member
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    Default Re: Help understanding the word "CONTAIN" in certain usages

    Just answer me this, does the word contain mean something has to be physically contained, like water in a jar or garbage in a bag?

    Or can it also mean contain, as in embodied or held within, in more an abstract sense such as the example "my ideas are contain in the book"....seems to me we use contain to explain thing, not necessary tangiable that are referred to or 'contained' within something. Would this be a correct assumption?

  6. #6
    bhaisahab's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help understanding the word "CONTAIN" in certain usages

    Quote Originally Posted by alkaspeltzar View Post
    Just answer me this, does the word contain mean something has to be physically contained, like water in a jar or garbage in a bag?

    Or can it also mean contain, as in embodied or held within, in more an abstract sense such as the example "my ideas are contain in the book"....seems to me we use contain to explain thing, not necessary tangiable that are referred to or 'contained' within something. Would this be a correct assumption?
    "...can it also mean contain, as in embodied or held within, in more of an abstract sense such as the example "my ideas are contained in the book?"
    Yes.

  7. #7
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help understanding the word "CONTAIN" in certain usages

    I would say that if your ideas are contained in a book, then they are physically contained. Your ideas have been converted to words, the words are on pages, and those pages are contained inside the front and back covers of the book.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  8. #8
    alkaspeltzar is offline Member
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    Default Re: Help understanding the word "CONTAIN" in certain usages

    Thank you emsr2d2 and bhaisahab

    I think i understand now. I was trying to think of 'contain' as only meaning one could contain physical things. But I see now that was wrong. I see that the word has different senses, and can be used to indicated something, such as a book has/represents the ideas through the words and the pages, thus containing.

    So to answer my question, contain can mean to physically have physical things, or to include/hold within in more abstract contexts such as the case of the ideas. I also see now many dictionaries define 'contain' as to embrace, to incorporate, to embody, given such examples as shown above.

    Thanks for making it clear.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Help understanding the word "CONTAIN" in certain usages

    Quote Originally Posted by alkaspeltzar View Post
    Thank you emsr2d2 and bhaisahab

    I think i understand now. I was trying to think of 'contain' as only meaning one could contain physical things. But I see now that was wrong. I see that the word has different senses, and can be used to indicated something, such as a book has/represents the ideas through the words and the pages, thus containing.

    So to answer my question, contain can mean to physically have physical things, or to include/hold within in more abstract contexts such as the case of the ideas. I also see now many dictionaries define 'contain' as to embrace, to incorporate, to embody, given such examples as shown above.

    Thanks for making it clear.
    Dictionaries don't embrace or embody words or definitions. They contain them. They list them.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  10. #10
    alkaspeltzar is offline Member
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    Default Re: Help understanding the word "CONTAIN" in certain usages

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Dictionaries don't embrace or embody words or definitions. They contain them. They list them.
    I hope this is not to confuse me more. I agree with you.Yes I do know the dictionary contains words.

    What i was saying earlier is I see now, reading the dictionaries alittle more, that the word "contain" has been defined as 'to embrace, to include or to embody" which makes alot of sense. Many times this definition was given when the item being contained, was more of an abstraction.

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