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!

pan 1 (păn)
Share:
n.
1. A shallow, wide, open container, usually of metal and without a lid, used for holding liquids, cooking, and other domestic purposes.
2. A vessel similar in form to a pan, especially:
a. An open metal dish used to separate gold, other precious metals, or gemstones from gravel or waste by washing.
b. Either of the receptacles on a balance or pair of scales.
c. A vessel used for boiling and evaporating liquids.
3.
a. A basin or depression in the earth, often containing mud or water.
b. A natural or artificial basin used to obtain salt by evaporating brine.
c. Hardpan.
4. A freely floating piece of ice that has broken off a larger floe.
5. The small cavity in the lock of a flintlock used to hold powder.
6. Music A steel drum.
7. Slang The face.
8. Informal Severe criticism, especially a negative review: gave the film a pan.
v. panned, pan·ning, pans
v.tr.
1. To wash (gravel, for example) in a pan to separate out gold, other precious metals, or gemstones.
2. To cook (food) in a pan: panned the fish right after catching it.
3. Informal To criticize or review harshly.
v.intr.
1. To wash gravel, sand, or other sediment in a pan.
2. To yield gold as a result of washing in a pan.
Phrasal Verb:
pan out
To turn out well; be successful: "If I don't pan out as an actor I can still go back to school" (Saul Bellow).

[Middle English, from Old English panne, from West Germanic *panna, probably from Vulgar Latin *patna, from Latin patina, shallow pan, platter, from Greek patanē; see petə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
pan 2 (pän)
Share:
n.
Variant of paan.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
pan 3 (păn)
Share:
v. panned, pan·ning, pans
v.intr.
To pivot a movie camera along a horizontal plane in order to follow an object or create a panoramic effect.
v.tr.
To pivot (a movie camera) in a specified direction.
n.
A pivoting movement of a movie camera.

[Short for PANORAMA or PANORAMIC.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
PAN
Share:
n.
peroxyacetyl nitrate

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
pan-
Share:
pref.
1. All: panorama.
2. also Pan- Involving all of or the union of a specified group: Pan-Hellenic.
3. General; whole: panleukopenia.

[Greek, from pan, neuter of pās, pant-, all; see pant- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
Pan.
Share:
abbr.
1. Panama
2. Panamanian

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
Pan (păn)
Share:
n.
Greek Mythology The god of woods, fields, and flocks, having a human torso and head with a goat's legs, horns, and ears.

[Middle English, from Latin Pān, from Greek.]

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.