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

task (tăsk)
Share:
n.
1. A piece of work assigned or done as part of one's duties.
2. A difficult or tedious undertaking: Finding qualified people to fill these specialized roles was a real task.
3. A function to be performed; an objective: It is our task to renew consumer confidence.
tr.v. tasked, task·ing, tasks
1. To assign a task to or impose a task on: The agency was tasked with creating an advertising campaign.
2. Archaic To subject to strain or hardship: "The Professor's household was a modest one, and yet it tasked his ideas to keep it up to his wife's standard" (Edith Wharton).
Idiom:
take/call/bring to task
To reprimand or censure.

[Middle English taske, imposed work, tax, from Old North French tasque, from Vulgar Latin *tasca, alteration of *taxa, from Latin taxāre, to feel, reproach, reckon; see TAX.]

Synonyms: task, job1, chore, assignment
These nouns denote a piece of work that one must do. A task is a well-defined responsibility that is usually imposed by another and that may be burdensome: I stayed at work late to finish the task at hand. Job often suggests a specific short-term undertaking: "did little jobs about the house with skill" (W.H. Auden).
Chore generally denotes a minor or routine job: The farmer's morning chores included milking the cows. Assignment generally denotes a task allotted by a person in authority: His homework assignment involved writing an essay.

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.