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box 1 (bŏks)
a. A container typically constructed with four sides perpendicular to the base and often having a lid or cover.
b. The amount or quantity that such a container can hold.
2. A square or rectangle: Draw a box around your answer.
a. A separated compartment in a public place of entertainment, such as a theater or stadium, for the accommodation of a small group.
b. An area of a public place, such as a courtroom or stadium, marked off and restricted for use by persons performing a specific function: a jury box.
4. A small structure serving as a shelter: a sentry box.
5. Chiefly British A small country house used as a sporting lodge: a shooting box.
6. A box stall.
7. The raised seat for the driver of a coach or carriage.
8. Baseball
a. An area on a diamond marked by lines designating where the batter may stand.
b. Any of various designated areas for other team members, such as the pitcher, catcher, and coaches.
9. Sports
a. A penalty box.
b. The penalty area on a soccer field.
10. Printing Featured printed matter enclosed by hairlines, a border, or white space and placed within or between text columns.
11. A hollow made in the side of a tree for the collection of sap.
12. A post office box.
a. An inbox.
b. An outbox.
a. An insulating, enclosing, or protective casing or part in a machine.
b. A signaling device enclosed in a casing: an alarm box.
15. A cable box.
a. Informal A television.
b. A very large portable radio.
17. Chiefly British A gift or gratuity, especially one given at Christmas.
18. An awkward or perplexing situation; a predicament.
19. Vulgar Slang The vulva and the vagina.
tr.v. boxed, box·ing, box·es
1. To pack in a box.
2. To confine in or as if in a box.
3. To border or enclose with or as if with a box: Key sections of the report are boxed off.
4. To provide a housing or case for (a machine part, for example).
a. To limit the activity or influence of by or as if by creating a restrictive structure or outlining a territory: The legislature was boxed in by its earlier decisions.
b. Sports To block (a competitor or opponent) from advancing, especially to hinder an opponent from getting a rebound in basketball by placing oneself between the opponent and the basket: was boxed out by the tallest player on the team; was boxed in on the homestretch.
6. Nautical To boxhaul.
7. To cut a hole in (a tree) for the collection of sap.
8. To blend (paint) by pouring alternately between two containers.
9. To change the shape of (a structure, such as a wall) by applying lath and plaster or boarding.
box the compass
1. To name the 32 points of the compass in proper order.
2. To make a complete revolution or reversal.
in a box Informal
In a very difficult or restrictive situation.
outside/outside of the box
In a strikingly unconventional or original way: thinking outside the box.

[Middle English, from Old English, from Late Latin buxis, from Greek puxis, from puxos, box tree.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
box 2 (bŏks)
A slap or blow with the hand or fist: a box on the ear.
v. boxed, box·ing, box·es
1. To hit with the hand or fist.
2. Sports To take part in a boxing match with.
To fight with the fists or in a boxing match.

[Middle English.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
box 3 (bŏks)
n. pl. box or box·es
a. Any of several evergreen shrubs or trees of the genus Buxus, especially the Eurasian species B. sempervirens, widely cultivated as a hedge plant and having opposite, leathery, dark green leaves and small whitish flowers.
b. The hard, light yellow wood of any of these plants, formerly widely used to make musical instruments, inlays, engraving blocks, and measuring instruments. Also called boxwood.
2. Any of various other shrubs or trees with similar foliage or timber, especially several types of eucalyptus.

[Middle English, from Old English, from Latin buxus, from Greek puxos.]

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.