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!

fan 1 (făn)
Share:
n.
1. A device for creating a current of air or a breeze, especially:
a. A machine using an electric motor to rotate thin, rigid vanes in order to move air, as for cooling.
b. A collapsible, usually wedge-shaped device made of a light material such as silk, paper, or plastic.
2. An implement or machine for winnowing.
3. Something resembling an open fan in shape: a peacock's fan.
v. fanned, fan·ning, fans
v.tr.
1. To move or cause a current of (air) with or as if with a fan.
2. To direct a current of air or a breeze upon, especially in order to cool: fan one's face.
3. To stir (something) up by or as if by fanning: fanned the flames in the fireplace; a troublemaker who fanned resentment among the staff.
4. To open (something) out into the shape of a fan: The bird fanned its colorful tail.
5.
a. To fire (an automatic gun) in a continuous sweep by keeping one's finger on the trigger.
b. To fire (a nonautomatic gun) rapidly by chopping the hammer with the palm.
6. To winnow.
7. Baseball To strike out (a batter).
v.intr.
1. To spread out like a fan: The troops fanned out from the beachhead.
2. Baseball To strike out.

[Middle English, winnowing fan, from Old English fann, from Latin vannus; see wet-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
(click for a larger image)
fan1
(click for a larger image)

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
fan 2 (făn)
Share:
n.
An ardent devotee; an enthusiast.

[Short for FANATIC.]

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.