I am looking for a word that can be used to describe an arbitrary thing as being 'capable of containing, storing, and/or holding other things'. Asking around I got suggestions such as "fillable", "insertable", etc... which may or may not be actual "real" words, and also fail to fully encompass the meaning I am trying to get at. If a thing can be "containable" what is the word that describes the thing in which it would be contained?

After a lot of googling and searching this and similar sites, I am kind of starting to wonder if there even is a word for this?


For clarification, and also why 'hollow' or something like that isn't sufficient, I was hoping for something that directly implied or had connotations of something that was intended to hold or contain other things.

Exact context was originally trying to find the correct word to use in naming a Java interface as our naming specifications say it needs to be an adjective, but after having no luck (and getting the okay to just name it Container) I was kinda annoyed that I couldn't find a descriptor to fit the meaning of "an object capable of or intended for containing other objects". I found several words for "a room/container that can hold a large/small amount of things/people" but none that just implied the capability of that room/container of actually containing any things at all.

I was thinking something along the lines of "Character checked in the ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ {noun} for their emergency cash" or "{noun} is also ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ , making it a perfect place for hiding valuables" where {noun} could be anything (though probably not something normally thought of as a container as then the adjective would be unneeded).

Examples for ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ ̲ & {noun}:

  • "container-like & air-conditioner"
  • "hollow & roll of netting"
  • "empty & outlet"

though not necessarily specific to valuables, those were just the first things that popped into my head. And though hollow & empty are good descriptors for something known to be a container, something like "an empty outlet" implies that an outlet has nothing plugged into it, rather than the specific outlet is (also) a container. So i am trying to find a word or words that would imply {noun} is "container-like"

  • 1
    Depending on your exact context (not as yet provided), you might want to consider accommodating - having or making room for. Jun 24, 2016 at 20:52
  • 1
    Why not "empty"? I understand what you're looking for, but if something is empty, it certainly implies that it could be full, thus it is "fillable", no? Jun 24, 2016 at 21:29
  • I considered it but a lot of things can be 'empty', though i guess first thought when something is empty is that it can be filled, or presumably hold something. Jun 24, 2016 at 22:42
  • Can you contrive a sample sentence where the attribute must be explicitly stated? It's a strict rule here that single word requests must come with a fill-in-the-blank sentence. That should solve the problem. Please take the tour
    – Phil Sweet
    Jun 24, 2016 at 23:18
  • containable is also an adjective
    – Drew
    Jun 25, 2016 at 3:15

5 Answers 5


Part of the difficulty is that a general word meaning "capable of being used as a container" would be tautological in most, if not all, cases. Nouns for things which can contain something such as 'canister', 'envelope', 'box', 'drawer', 'vase' and so on already carry the connotation that they can contain something.

A 'fillable' canister, for instance, is different from an 'unfillable' one only in that it is not already full, sealed or damaged beyond use.

  • If it is full its potential to be used as a container is is being utilised to its maximum extent.
  • If it is under-used but sealed its potential is being used but someone has decided that the object it contains must be protected in some way.
  • If it is empty but sealed it still capable of being used as a container, but only when the seal is broken (it might have been supplied as a sterile container for example).
  • If it is empty and damaged beyond use it is an exception to the general class of canisters and so is described as "an unusable canister", "a flattened canister" or some other description that indicates that it cannot carry out the function implied by its designation as "a canister".

Unless someone can come up with a noun which identifies something which is not inherently capable of being used as a container but, under certain cicumstances can be used as a container there seems to be no need for a general word meaning "capable of being used as a container", so it probably does not exist.


The closest I've come to it so far is "invaginate", as an adjective. Trouble is this word describes the object as a container or pocket but more from the perspective of how it was formed into that rather than its actual nature of being suited or meant for containing things.

I'll keep thinking about it. There must be a word for it.


I stand by my suggestion of "fillable" as the proper answer, but you might also consider "suppliable" as an alternative. It addresses some of your problems. A paper bag can be supplied with water despite not containing it for long. The same can be said of a water pipe or sieve. "Occupiable" may also be an option.


Not an easy question ...

"A word that can be used to describe an arbitrary thing as being 'capable of containing, storing, and/or holding other things" ...

How about capacious? While perhaps not perfect, it seems at least to be in the right ballpark.


capacious: able to hold or contain a lot : large in capacity

Your examples:

"Character checked in the capacious safe for their emergency cash."


"The safe is capacious, making it a perfect place for hiding valuables."

The degree to which a "container" is capacious depends on the size and number of "objects" to be stored within it. Also, one could "control" the degree of capaciousness (i.e., capacity) with adverbs. For example, one might characterize a container as moderately capacious or slightly capacious, if these are not contradictions in terms.


In math, logic and computer science you may use variable .

Variable: a quantity that can have any one of a set of values

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