con·tain / kənˈtān/ • v. [tr.] 1. have or hold (someone or something) within. ∎ be made up of (a number of things); consist of: borscht can contain mainly beets or a number of vegetables. ∎ (of a number) be divisible by (a factor) without a remainder.2. control or restrain (oneself or a feeling). ∎ prevent (a severe problem) from increasing in extent or intensity: a new western policy to contain the conflict in Bosnia.DERIVATIVES: con·tain·a·ble adj.