use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

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

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. Annual surveys have gauged 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

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

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

scroll-icon

THE AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY BLOG

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

100-words-icon

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

Find out more!

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

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

we (wē)
Share:
pron.
1. Used by the speaker or writer to indicate the speaker or writer along with another or others as the subject: We made it to the lecture hall on time. We are planning a trip to Arizona this winter.
2. Used to refer to people in general, including the speaker or writer: "How can we enter the professions and yet remain civilized human beings?" (Virginia Woolf).
3. Used instead of I, especially by a writer wishing to reduce or avoid a subjective tone.
4. Used instead of I, especially by an editorialist, in expressing the opinion or point of view of a publication's management.
5. Used instead of I by a sovereign in formal address to refer to himself or herself.
6. Used instead of you in direct address, especially to imply a patronizing camaraderie with the addressee: How are we feeling today?

[Middle English, from Old English wē; see we- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

Usage Note: Appositive nouns or noun phrases sometimes lead writers and speakers to choose incorrect pronoun forms. Thus us is frequently found in constructions such as Us owners will have something to say about the contract, where we is required as the subject of the sentence. Less frequently, we is substituted in positions where us should be used, as in For we students, it's a no-win situation. In all cases, the function of the pronoun within the sentence should determine its form, whether or not it is followed by a noun or noun phrase. See Usage Notes at be, I1.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 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.

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.