To look up an entry in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, use the search window above. For best results, after typing in the word, click on the “Search” button instead of using the “enter” key.

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you type them in the search bar. For best results with compound words, place a quotation mark before the compound word in the search window.

guide to the dictionary



The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. Annual surveys have gauged the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists



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



The articles in our blog examine new words, revised definitions, interesting images from the fifth edition, discussions of usage, and more.


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

Find out more!



Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at

strange (strānj)
adj. strang·er, strang·est
a. Not previously known; unfamiliar: saw lots of strange faces at the reception; heard music that was strange to me.
b. Not of one's own or a particular locality, environment, or kind; not native: came across a flower that was strange to the region.
2. Out of the ordinary or difficult to account for; unusual or peculiar: Events took a strange twist last week.
a. Reserved in manner; distant or cool: The once affable man slowly became strange to his friends.
b. Not comfortable or at ease: I felt strange and out of place at the party because I didn't know any of the guests.
4. Not accustomed or conditioned: She was strange to her new duties.
5. Physics Of, relating to, or exhibiting strangeness.
In a strange manner: He's been acting strange lately.

[Middle English, from Old French estrange, extraordinary, foreign, from Latin extrāneus, adventitious, foreign, from extrā, outside, from feminine ablative of exter, outward; see eghs in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

strangely adv.

Synonyms: strange, odd, peculiar, eccentric, outlandish
These adjectives describe what deviates from the usual or customary. Strange refers especially to what is unfamiliar, unknown, or inexplicable: It was strange to see so many people out walking around at night. Something that is odd fails to accord with what is ordinary, usual, or expected and suggests strangeness: “There was certainly something odd about the stars: perhaps there was more color in them, for they glittered like tiny gems” (Neil Gaiman).
Similarly, peculiar describes what is odd or unusual, but often with an emphasis on distinctness or individuality: She has a peculiar kind of handwriting that is at once pleasant to look at but hard to read. Eccentric refers particularly to what is strange and departs strikingly from the conventional: His musical compositions were innovative but eccentric. Outlandish suggests alien or bizarre strangeness: The partygoers wore outlandish costumes.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

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.