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!

then (thĕn)
Share:
adv.
1. At that time: I was still in school then. Come at noon; I'll be ready then.
2. Next in time, space, or order; immediately afterward: watched the late movie and then went to bed.
3. In addition; moreover; besides: It costs $20, and then there's the sales tax to pay.
4. Used after but to qualify or balance a preceding statement: The star was nervous, but then who isn't on the first night of a new play.
5. In that case; accordingly: If traffic is heavy, then allow extra time.
6. As a consequence; therefore: The case, then, is closed.
conj.
Usage Problem And after that: I showered, then combed my hair.
n.
That time or moment: The bus leaves at four; until then let's walk.
adj.
Being so at that time: the then chairman of the board.
Idiom:
then again
From another standpoint; on the other hand: I need a vacation. Then again, so do my coworkers.

[Middle English, from Old English thenne; see to- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

Usage Note: Sticklers for grammar sometimes assert that then is not a coordinating conjunction, and that the sentence She took a slice of pie, then left is thus incorrect; it must be rewritten as She took a slice of pie and then left, in which the then acts as an adverb and the halves of the compound predicate are linked by the coordinating conjunction and. But this use of then as a coordinating conjunction is actually both widespread and widely accepted; in our 2012 survey, more than three quarters of the Usage Panel found the sentence She took a slice of pie, then left completely acceptable. Note, though, that the punctuation of this conjunctive use of then differs from the usual punctuation for similar sentences using and. No comma is needed when and links the parts of a compound predicate, as in She took a slice of pie and left. When then joins the halves of the predicate, a comma is usually required; only 8 percent of the Panel approved of She took a slice of pie then left.

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.