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

scan (skăn)
Share:
v. scanned, scan·ning, scans
v.tr.
1.
a. To look at carefully or thoroughly, especially in search of something; examine: The sailor scanned the horizon for signs of land.
b. To look over quickly or read hastily: I scanned the newspaper while eating breakfast.
2. Computers To search (stored data) automatically for specific data.
3.
a. To direct a finely focused beam of light or electrons in a systematic pattern over (a surface) in order to reproduce or sense and subsequently transmit an image.
b. To direct a radar beam in a systematic pattern across (a sector of sky) in search of a target.
4. To encode (text, for example) in digital format by means of an optical scanner.
5.
a. Medicine To direct x-rays or other energy at (a body or body part) in order to produce an image, as with a CT scanner.
b. To pass (luggage, for example) through a detector at a security checkpoint in order to detect weapons or banned materials.
6. To analyze (verse) into metrical patterns.
v.intr.
1. To analyze verse into metrical patterns.
2. To conform to a metrical pattern: Does this line scan?
n.
1. The act or an instance of scanning: my scan of the files.
2. Medicine
a. The action or process of scanning a body or body part.
b. An image produced by scanning.

[Middle English scanden, scannen, to scan a verse, from Latin scandere, to climb, scan a verse; see skand- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

scanna·ble adj.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 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.