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!

search (sûrch)
Share:
v. searched, search·ing, search·es
v. tr.
1. To move around in, go through, or look through in an effort to find something: searched the room for her missing earring; searched the desk for a pen.
2. To make a careful examination or investigation of; probe: search one's conscience for the right thing to do.
3. To seek data matching a word, phrase, or pattern of characters in: searched the internet for information about ostriches.
4. Law To examine (a person or property) for the purpose of discovering evidence of a crime.
v. intr.
1. To search a place or space in order to find something: searched all afternoon for my wallet.
2. To make a careful examination or investigation: searching for the right words to say.
3. To use a search engine or other software to find any data matching a particular pattern.
4. Law To make a search for evidence.
n.
1. An act of searching.
2. Law The examination of a person or property, as by a law enforcement officer, for the purpose of discovering evidence of a crime.
3. A control mechanism on an audio or video player that rapidly advances or reverses the playing of a recording.
Phrasal Verb:
search out
To seek to find or come to know by examination: sought out the answer in a history book.
Idiom:
search me Slang
Used by a speaker to indicate that he or she does not have an answer to a question just asked.

[Middle English serchen, from Anglo-Norman sercher, variant of Old French cerchier, from Latin circāre, to go around, from Latin circus, circle, from Greek krikos, kirkos; see sker-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

searcha·ble adj.
searcher n.

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.