verb \ˈskan\

: to look at (something) carefully usually in order to find someone or something

: to look over or read (something) quickly

: to look at the inside of (something) by using a special machine


Full Definition of SCAN

transitive verb
:  to read or mark so as to show metrical structure <scan poetry>
:  to examine by point-by-point observation or checking:
a :  to investigate thoroughly by checking point by point and often repeatedly <a fire lookout scanning the hills with binoculars>
b :  to glance from point to point of often hastily, casually, or in search of a particular item <scan the want ads looking for a job>
a :  to examine systematically (as by passing a beam of radiation over or through) in order to obtain data especially for display or storage <scanned the patient's heart> <radar scans the horizon> <scan the photos into the computer>
b :  to pass over in the formation of an image <the electron beam scans the picture tube>
intransitive verb
:  to scan verse
:  to conform to a metrical pattern <this poem scans well>
scan·na·ble \ˈska-nə-bəl\ adjective

Examples of SCAN

  1. He scanned the field with binoculars.
  2. He scanned the audience looking for his parents.
  3. She scanned his face for any clue to what he was thinking.
  4. She quickly scanned the pages of the newspaper.
  5. She scanned through the list to find her name.
  6. Their bags were scanned at the airport.
  7. This machine scans a patient's brain.

Origin of SCAN

Middle English scannen, from Late Latin scandere, from Latin, to climb; akin to Middle Irish sceinnid he springs, Sanskrit skandati he leaps
First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of SCAN

scrutinize, scan, inspect, examine mean to look at or over. scrutinize stresses close attention to minute detail <scrutinized the hospital bill>. scan implies a surveying from point to point often suggesting a cursory overall observation <scanned the wine list>. inspect implies scrutinizing for errors or defects <inspected my credentials>. examine suggests a scrutiny in order to determine the nature, condition, or quality of a thing <examined the specimens>.

Rhymes with SCAN



Definition of SCAN

:  the act or process of scanning
:  a radar or television trace
:  an image formed by scanning something: as
a :  a depiction (as a photograph) of the distribution of a radioactive material in something (as a bodily organ)
b :  an image of a bodily part produced (as by computer) by combining ultrasonic or radiographic data obtained from several angles or sections

Examples of SCAN

  1. The patient underwent a brain scan.
  2. The doctor examined the bone scans.

First Known Use of SCAN

SCANNING Defined for Kids


verb \ˈskan\

Definition of SCAN for Kids

:  to examine or look over carefully <He scanned the field with binoculars.>
:  to look through or over quickly <I scanned the headlines of the newspaper.>
:  to examine with a special device (as a scanner) especially to obtain information <My bag was scanned at the airport.>


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