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

cast (kăst)
Share:
v. cast, cast·ing, casts
v.tr.
1.
a. To throw (something, especially something light): The boy cast stones in the water.
b. To throw with force; hurl: waves that cast driftwood far up on the shore. See Synonyms at throw.
c. To throw or propel a lure or bait at the end of (a fishing line) into the water so as to catch fish or other aquatic life.
d. To throw (a net), as in fishing; cause to spread out.
e. To throw on the ground, as in wrestling.
f. To let fall; drop: cast anchor.
g. To roll or throw (dice, for example).
h. To draw (lots).
2. To shed; molt: The snake cast its skin.
3. To deposit or indicate (a ballot or vote).
4. To turn or direct: All eyes were cast upon the speaker.
5.
a. To cause to fall onto or over something or in a certain direction: candles casting light; trees casting shadows.
b. To assert in relation to someone or something or cause to be associated: Don't let him cast aspersions on your character. The results cast doubt on our hypothesis.
6. To give birth to prematurely: The cow cast a calf.
7. To cause (hunting hounds) to scatter and circle in search of a lost scent.
8.
a. To choose actors for (a play, for example).
b. To assign a certain role to (an actor): cast her as the lead.
c. To assign an actor to (a part): cast each role carefully.
9.
a. To form (liquid metal, for example) into a particular shape by pouring into a mold.
b. To make (an object) by casting liquid metal.
10. To arrange or devise: cast the book in three parts; cast a plan.
11. To calculate or compute; add up (a column of figures).
12. To calculate astrologically: cast my horoscope.
13. To warp; twist: floorboards cast by age.
14. Nautical To turn (a ship); change to the opposite tack.
v.intr.
1. To throw something, especially to throw out a lure or bait at the end of a fishing line.
2. To add a column of figures; make calculations.
3. To receive form or shape in a mold: a material that casts well.
4. To become warped.
5. To search for a lost scent in hunting with hounds.
6. Nautical
a. To veer to leeward from a former course; fall off.
b. To put about; tack.
7. To choose actors for the parts in a play, movie, or other theatrical presentation.
n.
1.
a. The act or an instance of casting or throwing.
b. The act or an instance of throwing a fishing line or net into the water.
c. The line or net thrown.
d. The distance covered by a throw.
e. A throw of dice.
f. The number on dice facing up when thrown.
2. A stroke of fortune or fate; a lot.
3.
a. Something, such as molted skin, that is thrown off, out, or away.
b. A piece of excrement produced by an earthworm.
4.
a. A direction or expression of the eyes.
b. A slight squint.
5. The addition of a column of figures; calculation.
6. A conjecture; a forecast.
7.
a. The act of pouring molten material into a mold.
b. The amount of molten material poured into a mold at a single operation.
c. Something formed by this means or in a mold or matrix: The sculpture was a bronze cast. They made a cast of her face.
8. A rigid dressing, usually made of gauze and plaster of Paris, used to immobilize an injured body part, as in a fracture or dislocation. Also called plaster cast.
9. The form in which something is made or constructed; arrangement: the close-set cast of her features.
10. Outward form or look; appearance: a suit of stylish cast.
11. Sort; type: fancied himself to be of a macho cast.
12. An inclination; tendency: her thoughtful cast of mind.
13. The actors in a play, movie, or other theatrical presentation.
14. A slight trace of color; a tinge.
15. A distortion of shape.
16. The circling of hounds to pick up a scent in hunting.
17. A pair of hawks released by a falconer at one time.
Phrasal Verbs:
cast about (or around)
1. To make a search; look: had to cast about for an hour, looking for a good campsite.
2. To devise means; contrive.
cast off
1. To discard; reject: cast off old clothing.
2. To let go; set loose: cast off a boat; cast off a line.
3. To make the last row of stitches in knitting.
4. Printing To estimate the space a manuscript will occupy when set into type.
cast on
To make the first row of stitches in knitting.
cast out
To drive out by force; expel.
Idiom:
cast (one's) lot with
To join or side with for better or worse.

[Middle English casten, from Old Norse kasta.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 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.