in - definition and synonyms

adjective, adverb, preposition 

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In can be used in the following ways:
as a preposition (followed by a noun): The children are in the garden.They met in 1973.
as an adverb (without a following noun): Come in and sit down.
after the verb ‘to be’: ‘Is Philip in?’ ‘No, he’s gone out.’
as an adjective: It was the in thing to do.
  1. 1
    used for showing where someone or something is
    1. a.
      inside a container, room, building, vehicle etc

      He had left his passport in his coat pocket.

      She’s downstairs in the sitting room.

      If convicted, Goldman faces 20 years in prison.

      There’s room for all of us in Dad’s car.

      Have you seen a bag with some tools in?

    2. b.
      within an area, city, or country

      The books are printed in Hong Kong.

      the largest stadium in the world

      a picnic in the park

    3. c.
      at home, or at your office

      Most evenings we stay in and watch television.

      I asked to speak to the manager but he wasn’t in.

    4. d.
      within an object, space, or substance

      We noticed a crack in the wall.

      in the air/in the sky/in space:

      There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

      It was the astronauts’ first experience of living in space.

    5. e.
      at a specific part of something

      Further details can be found in Section 25.

      in the middle/centre:

      a new department store in the centre of London

    6. f.
      held or enclosed by something

      What’s that you’ve got in your hand?

      They lay together in each other’s arms.

    7. g.
      a ball that is in during a game such as tennis or basketball is within the area of play
       Synonyms and related words
       Synonyms and related words
  2. 2
    into something
    1. a.
      into your home, room, or place of work

      I invited her in for a drink.

    2. b.
      moving into a place or a space

      The door was open so I just walked in.

      The water’s very deep – don’t fall in!

      The guards fired a few shots in the air.

    3. c.
      looking or pointing into something

      Look in the top drawer of my desk.

      The dog stood motionless with its tail sticking straight up in the air.

  3. 3
    arriving somewhere
    1. a.
      used for saying that a train, bus, plane, or ship arrives somewhere

      What time does your flight get in?

      The train from Paddington was just pulling in.

      The ferry won’t be in for another hour.

    2. b.
      arriving at your home or place of work

      What time did you get in last night?

      I’m going to be late, so don’t expect me in till after ten.

  4. 4
    used for showing when something happens
    1. a.
      during a particular period, year, month, or season, or during a part of the day

      Mel Gibson was born in 1956.

      In winter the lake freezes over.

      Let’s meet again in the morning, at around 9.30.

      The dance was popular in the 1920s.

    2. b.
      at the end of a period of time in the future

      The exams are in six weeks’ time.

      Wait, I’ll be with you in a minute or two.

    3. c.
      within a period of time

      Unemployment has risen by over 15% in the past year.

      In the last few minutes we have received reports of an explosion on board an oil tanker.

      Ernie had suffered two heart attacks in the space of a week.

    4. d.
      used for saying how long it is since something last happened

      I haven’t laughed so much in years.

      It was the president’s first public appearance in three months.

    5. e.
      during the time that someone is involved in something, or is experiencing something

      Owen’s brother died in the war.

      I sometimes look back and think of all the things I’ve done in my life.

  5. 5
    used for talking about numbers and amounts
    1. a.
      used for saying how many units of money, weight, measurement etc make up a larger unit

      There are 1000 kilograms in a tonne.

    2. b.
      used for saying how big groups of people or things are when they do something

      Lions often hunt in pairs.

      People began to arrive in twos and threes.

    3. c.
      used for saying how common something is by showing it as a number in relation to the total number

      One in twelve of the adult population suffers from stress.

    4. d.
      used for saying that a number is within a particular range, especially a temperature, a score, or someone’s age
      in the twenties/fifties/seventies etc:

      a hot summer’s day with temperatures in the upper 20s

      in your teens/twenties/thirties etc:

      My daughter is in her mid-thirties now.

    5. e.
      British used for showing something such as a rate of tax

      Income tax now stands at 22 pence in the pound.

  6. 6
    used for saying areas of activity
    1. a.
      used for saying what organized activity someone does with other people

      Leeds United fans took part in a massive street party.

    2. b.
      used for saying what type of work someone does

      She’s a teacher and her husband works in publishing.

    3. c.
      used for saying what area of work or activity you are talking about

      There have been amazing advances in medical science.

  7. 7
    used for describing a particular state, situation, or relationship
    1. a.
      used for describing the state or condition of someone or something

      I’m sorry my room’s in such a mess.

      She wants to travel around the world while she’s still in good health.

    2. b.
      used for saying what the situation is for someone or something

      Kevin is in trouble again.

      Their lives were in danger.

    3. c.
      used for describing the relationship between people and organizations

      We wanted to get married because we were very much in love.

      Are we all in agreement?

      The United States will work in co-operation with her allies.

  8. 8
    used for saying what someone is wearing

    She looked so beautiful in her wedding dress.

    A man in a clown’s hat came and sat beside her.

  9. 9
    used for saying what things change, increase, improve etc

    There’s going to be a change in the weather.

  10. 10
    used for talking about the way something is done
    1. a.
      using a particular method or style

      We are trying to teach mathematics in a more interesting way.

      The houses are all built in the traditional style.

      You have to pay in cash.

    2. b.
      used for describing a particular type of behaviour or way of speaking

      We all sat in silence.

      She called out to me in a loud voice.

      in tears (=crying):

      Some of the children were in tears.

    3. c.
      using a particular language
      in English/Spanish etc:

      Go on, say something in French.

      There are instructions in eight languages.

  11. 11
    used for describing ways of writing, drawing, or painting
    1. a.
      used for stating what you use for writing, drawing, or painting
      in ink/pencil/chalk/oils etc:

      a short note written in pencil

      There were artists painting in oils and watercolours.

  12. 12
    used for saying what group someone or something is part of

    Kenny’s been in the Boy Scouts since he was eight.

    She has a number of Picasso’s paintings in her private collection.

  13. 13
    used for describing how things are arranged
  14. 16
    used for mentioning the book, film etc where someone/something appears
    1. a.
      used for mentioning a story, play, film etc where a character or event appears or happens

      Mr Micawber is one of the best-loved characters in English literature.

      The disaster is vividly recalled in James Cameron’s film Titanic.

    2. b.
      used for mentioning a film or play where an actor appears

      Debbie Reynolds co-starred with Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain.

      Who’s in the new movie with Brad Pitt?

    3. c.
      used for mentioning a book, newspaper etc where you can read or see something
  15. 17
    used for saying what aspect of someone or something you are referring to

    She’s so selfish in her attitude to other people.

    The words are similar but there is a difference in meaning.

  16. 18
    written or drawn where something is needed

    Fill in your name and address at the top of the form.

    I typed in my password and my email address.

    The children were busy colouring in the maps they had drawn.

  17. 19
    used for describing someone’s feelings when they do something

    She spoke more in disappointment than in anger.

    In my enthusiasm I quite forgot Dr Ziegler’s warning.

  18. 20
    given or sent to someone or received by someone

    Have you sent in your application form?

    I shall collect your books in at the end of the lesson.

    be in (=be received):

    Tax forms must be in by the end of September.

  19. 21
    used for saying what product, food, or drink contains a particular substance

    There is a lot of fat in cheese and butter.

    Do you take milk in your tea?

  20. 22
    used for saying that something is available in a shop

    Smoked salmon? We’ll have some in on Thursday.

  21. 23
    British a player or team that is in during a game of cricket is batting
     Synonyms and related words
  22. 24
    used for saying the person or thing that has the qualities needed for a particular job or situation

    In Nelson Mandela the people had a leader that they could respect and admire.

  23. 25
    if a politician or a political party is in, they have been elected

    We hope things will get better now the Tories are in.

    get in (=be elected):

    The Labour candidate got back in with an increased majority.

  24. 26
    something that is in is fashionable
    the in thing (to do):

    We used to go to boring cocktail parties just because it was the in thing to do.

  25. 27
    if the tide is in or comes in, the sea has reached or is reaching its highest level on the land
  26. 28
    used for saying that something breaks or falls inwards

    They kicked the door in and charged through.

    The roof caved in and buried all of them.