use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

INDO-EUROPEAN & SEMITIC ROOTS APPENDICES

Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

like 2 (līk)
Share:
prep.
1. Possessing the characteristics of; resembling closely; similar to: Your house is like mine.
2.
a. In the typical manner of: It's not like you to take offense.
b. In the same way as: lived like royalty.
3. Inclined or disposed to: felt like running away.
4. As if the probability exists for: looks like a bad year for farmers.
5. Such as; for example: saved things like old newspapers and pieces of string.
adj.
Possessing the same or almost the same characteristics; similar: on this and like occasions.
adv.
1. In the manner of being; as if. Used as an intensifier of action: worked like hell; ran like crazy.
2. Informal Probably; likely: Like as not she'll change her mind.
3. Nearly; approximately: The price is more like 1,000 dollars.
4. Nonstandard Used to provide emphasis or to focus attention on something: Let's like talk about this for a minute. It's like so crowded you can't move.
n.
1. One similar to or like another. Used with the: was subject to coughs, asthma, and the like.
2. often likes Informal An equivalent or similar person or thing; an equal or match: I've never seen the likes of this before. We'll never see his like again.
conj.
Usage Problem
1. In the same way that; as: To dance like she does requires great discipline.
2. As if: It looks like we'll finish on time.
Idioms:
be like Informal
To say or utter. Used chiefly in oral narration: And he's like, "Leave me alone!"
like so
In the manner indicated: You apply the paint like so.

[Middle English, from like, similar (from Old English gelīc and Old Norse līkr) and from like, similarly (from Old English gelīce, from gelīc, similar); see līk- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

Usage Note: They don't make them like they used to. I remember it like it was yesterday. As these familiar examples show, like is often used as a conjunction meaning "as" or "as if," particularly in speech. While writers since Chaucer's time have used like as a conjunction, the usage today has a somewhat informal or conversational flavor. Language critics and writing handbooks have condemned the conjunctive use of like for more than a century, and in accordance with this tradition, like is usually edited out of more formal prose. This is easy enough to do, since as and as if stand as synonyms: Sales of new models rose as (not like) we expected them to. He ran as if (not like) his life depended on it. · Like is acceptable at all levels as a conjunction when used with verbs such as feel, look, seem, sound, and taste: It looks like we are in for a rough winter. Constructions in which the verb is not expressed, such as He took to politics like a duck to water, are also acceptable, especially since in these cases like can be viewed as a preposition. See Usage Notes at as1, together.

Our Living Language Along with be all and go, the construction combining be and like has become a common way of introducing quotations in informal conversation, especially among younger people: "So I'm like, 'Let's get out of here!'" As with go, this use of like can also announce a brief imitation of another person's behavior, often elaborated with facial expressions and gestures. It can also summarize a past attitude or reaction (instead of presenting direct speech). If a woman says "I'm like, 'Get lost buddy!'" she may or may not have used those actual words to tell the offending man off. In fact, she may not have said anything to him but instead may be summarizing her attitude at the time by stating what she might have said, had she chosen to speak. See Note at go1.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.