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

gal·ler·y (gălə-rē)
n. pl. gal·ler·ies
1. A roofed promenade, especially one extending along the wall of a building and supported by arches or columns on the outer side.
2. A long enclosed passage, such as a hallway or corridor.
a. A narrow balcony, usually having a railing or balustrade, along the outside of a building.
b. A projecting or recessed passageway along an upper story on the interior or exterior of a large building, generally marked by a colonnade or arcade.
c. Such a passageway situated over the aisle of a church and opening onto the nave. Also called tribune2.
4. Southwestern Gulf States See veranda.
a. An upper section, often with a sloping floor, projecting from the rear or side walls of a theater or an auditorium to provide additional seating.
b. The seats in such a section, usually cheaper than those on the main floor.
c. The cheapest seats in a theater, generally those of the uppermost gallery.
d. The audience occupying a gallery or cheap section of a theater.
6. A large audience or group of spectators, as at a tennis or golf match.
7. The general public, usually considered as exemplifying a lack of discrimination or sophistication: accused the administration of playing to the gallery on the defense issue.
a. A building, room, or website for the exhibition of artistic work.
b. An establishment that displays and sells works of art.
c. A photographer's studio.
9. A collection; an assortment: The trial featured a gallery of famous and flamboyant witnesses.
a. An underground tunnel or passageway, as in a cave or one dug for military or mining purposes.
b. A tunnel or series of tunnels made by an animal.
11. Nautical A platform or balcony at the stern or quarters of some early sailing ships.
12. A decorative upright trimming or molding along the edge of a table top, tray, or shelf.

[Middle English galerie, from Old French, from Old North French galilee, galilee; see GALILEE.]

galler·ied adj.

Our Living Language In Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, an open roofed porch that runs along at least one side of a house has been called a gallery: "Out on the small front gallery she had hung Bobinôt's Sunday clothes to air" (Kate Chopin). Craig M. Carver, the author of American Regional Dialects, points out that the word gallery, from Old French galerie, was borrowed into British English in the 15th century and was brought over to the American colonies by English-speaking settlers. Although the word in the sense "porch" did not survive in the American English of the East Coast, it was borrowed separately, probably from Acadian French, into the English of 18th-century Louisiana and there survived as part of the Southwestern Gulf dialect.

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.