1. A movable device, especially a framed construction such as a room divider or a decorative panel, designed to divide, conceal, or protect.
2. One that serves to protect, conceal, or divide: Security guards formed a screen around the president. A screen of evergreens afforded privacy from our neighbors.
a. A surface, as on a smartphone, television, or computer monitor, on which one can read and view electronically displayed information and images.
b. A surface on which text and images are projected for display.
c. The medium in which movies are shown: a star of stage and screen.
4. A coarse sieve used for sifting out fine particles, as of sand, gravel, or coal.
5. A system for preliminary appraisal and selection of personnel as to their suitability for particular jobs.
6. A window or door insertion of framed wire or plastic mesh used to keep out insects and permit air flow.
7. A body of troops or ships sent in advance of or surrounding a larger body to protect or warn of attack.
a. Sports A block, set with the body, that impedes the vision or movement of an opponent.
b. Football A screen pass.
tr.v. screened, screen·ing, screens
1. To show or project (a movie, for example) on a screen.
a. To conceal from view with a screen or something that acts like a screen: "Only a narrow line of brush and saplings screened the broad vista of the marsh" (David M. Carroll). See Synonyms at block.
b. To protect, guard, or shield: "This rose is screened from the wind with burlap" (Anne Raver).
3. To provide with a screen or screens: screen a porch.
a. To separate or sift out (fine particles of sand, for example) by means of a sieve or screen.
b. To sort through and eliminate unwanted examples of (something): a filter that screens email, preventing spam from reaching the inbox.
a. To examine (a job applicant, for example) systematically in order to determine suitability.
b. To test or evaluate (a student) to determine placement in an educational system or to identify specific learning needs.
c. To test or examine for the presence of disease or infection: screen blood; screen a patient.
d. To subject to genetic screening.
a. To block the vision or movement of (an opponent) with the body.
b. To obscure an opponent's view of (a shot) by positioning oneself between the opponent and the shooter.
[Middle English screne, from Old North French escren, from Middle Dutch scherm, shield, screen; see sker-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
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:
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.