1. a large receptacle, container, or structure for holding a liquid or gas: tanks for storing oil.
  2. a natural or artificial pool, pond, or lake.
  3. Military. an armored, self-propelled combat vehicle, armed with cannon and machine guns and moving on a caterpillar tread.
  4. Slang. a prison cell or enclosure for more than one occupant, as for prisoners awaiting a hearing.
  5. tank top.

verb (used with object)

  1. to put or store in a tank.

verb (used without object)

  1. Slang. to do poorly or decline rapidly; fail: The movie tanked at the box office.

Verb Phrases

  1. tank up,
    1. to fill the gas tank of an automobile or other motor vehicle.
    2. Slang.to drink a great quantity of alcoholic beverage, especially to intoxication.


  1. go in/into the tank, Boxing Slang. to go through the motions of a match but deliberately lose because of an illicit prearrangement or fix; throw a fight.
  2. in the tank, Slang.
    1. failing, doing poorly, or declining: His grades were in the tank last quarter.
    2. favoring, colluding, or assisting in a partisan way (often followed by with or for): The talk-show host was in the tank with the Green Party.


  1. a large container or reservoir for the storage of liquids or gasestanks for storing oil
    1. an armoured combat vehicle moving on tracks and armed with guns, etc, originally developed in World War I
    2. (as modifier)a tank commander; a tank brigade
  2. British and US dialect a reservoir, lake, or pond
  3. photog
    1. a light-tight container inside which a film can be processed in daylight, the solutions and rinsing waters being poured in and out without light entering
    2. any large dish or container used for processing a number of strips or sheets of film
  4. slang, mainly US
    1. a jail
    2. a jail cell
  5. Also called: tankful the quantity contained in a tank
  6. Australian a dam formed by excavation


  1. (tr) to put or keep in a tank
  2. (intr) to move like a tank, esp heavily and rapidly
  3. slang to defeat heavily
  4. (intr) informal to fail, esp commercially

v.“to lose or fail,” 1976, originally in tennis jargon, but said there to be from boxing, from tank (n.) in some sense. Related: Tanked; tanking. Adjective tanked “drunk” is from 1893. n.1610s, “pool or lake for irrigation or drinking water,” a word originally brought by the Portuguese from India, ultimately from Gujarati tankh “cistern, underground reservoir for water,” Marathi tanken, or tanka “reservoir of water, tank.” Perhaps from Sanskrit tadaga-m “pond, lake pool,” and reinforced in later sense of “large artificial container for liquid” (1680s) by Portuguese tanque “reservoir,” from estancar “hold back a current of water,” from Vulgar Latin *stanticare (see stanch). But others say the Portuguese word is the source of the Indian ones. Meaning “fuel container” is recorded from 1902. Military use originated 1915, partly as a code word, partly because they looked like benzene tanks. They were first used in action at Pozieres ridge, on the Western Front, Sept. 15, 1916. Slang meaning “detention cell” is from 1912. In addition to the idiom beginning with tank

  • tank up
  • also see:

  • think tank
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