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

tra·verse (trə-vûrs, trăvərs)
Share:
v. tra·versed, tra·vers·ing, tra·vers·es
v.tr.
1.
a. To travel or pass across, over, or through: a ship traversing a channel; light traversing a window.
b. To move to and fro over; cross and recross: traversed the room in thought for an hour.
c. To go up, down, or across (a slope) diagonally, as in skiing.
2. To cause to move laterally on a pivot; swivel: traverse an artillery piece.
3. To extend across; cross: a bridge that traverses a river.
4. To look over carefully; examine: "Someday I plan to read the classics. Someday I plan to traverse their pages and see for myself what raw weight they wield" (Beck Hansen).
5. Archaic To go counter to; thwart.
6. Law
a. To deny formally (an allegation of fact by the opposing party) in a lawsuit.
b. To join issue upon (an indictment).
7. To survey by traverse.
8. Nautical To brace (a yard) fore and aft.
v.intr.
1. To move to the side or back and forth.
2. To turn laterally; swivel.
3.
a. To go up, down, or across a slope diagonally or in a zigzag manner, as in skiing.
b. To slide one's blade with pressure toward the hilt of the opponent's foil in fencing.
n. trav·erse (trăvərs, trə-vûrs)
1. A passing across, over, or through.
2. A route or path across or over.
3. Something that lies across, especially:
a. An intersecting line; a transversal.
b. Architecture A structural crosspiece; a transom.
c. A gallery, deck, or loft crossing from one side of a building to the other.
d. A railing, curtain, screen, or similar barrier.
e. A defensive barrier across a rampart or trench, as a bank of earth thrown up to protect against enfilade fire.
4. Something that obstructs and thwarts; an obstacle.
5. Nautical The zigzag route of a vessel forced by contrary winds to sail on different courses.
6. A zigzag or diagonal course on a steep slope, as in skiing.
7.
a. A lateral movement, as of a lathe tool across a piece of wood.
b. A part of a mechanism that moves in this manner.
c. The lateral swivel of a mounted gun.
8. A line established by sighting in surveying a tract of land.
9. Law A formal denial of the opposing party's allegation of fact in a lawsuit.
adj. trav·erse (trăvərs, trə-vûrs)
Lying or extending across; transverse.

[Middle English traversen, from Old French traverser, from Vulgar Latin *trāversāre, from Late Latin trānsversāre, from Latin trānsversus, transverse; see TRANSVERSE.]

tra·versa·ble adj.
tra·versal n.
tra·verser n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 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.