ac·cess | \ ˈak-ˌses also ik-ˈses \

Definition of access 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : permission, liberty, or ability to enter, approach, or pass to and from a place or to approach or communicate with a person or thing Investigators wanted to get access to his home. consultants who have easy access to the president

b : freedom or ability to obtain or make use of something paying for access to the Internet

c : a way or means of entering or approaching A canal provides access to the river. a building that provides wheelchair access [=a way for people in wheelchairs to enter]

d : the act or an instance of accessing something

2a : onset sense 2 an access of illness

b : a fit of intense feeling : outburst If it had been in Tito's nature to feel an access of rage, he would have felt it against this bull-faced accomplice. —George Eliot

3 : an increase by addition a sudden access of wealth


accessed; accessing; accesses

Definition of access (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to get at : to gain access to: such as

a : to be able to use, enter, or get near (something) accessed the computer by phone a system that makes it easier to access the money in your bank account

b : to open or load (a computer file, an Internet site, etc.) a file that can be accessed by many users at the same time

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Synonyms & Antonyms for access

Synonyms: Noun

accession, admission, admittance, door, doorway, entrance, entrée (or entree), entry, gateway, ingress, key, passport, ticket

Synonyms: Verb

enter, penetrate, pierce

Antonyms: Verb

depart, exit, leave

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Examples of access in a Sentence


We have Internet access at the library. a sudden access of hay fever was making him feel miserable


The new system makes it easier to access the money in your bank account. Your favorite radio stations can be accessed at the touch of a button. The file loads every time you access the Web site. The file can be accessed by many users at the same time. She could work at home by remotely accessing the company's network. You'll need a password to access the database.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The transactions, some of which were disclosed in June, sparked criticism because Mr. Ross, as a high-ranking government official, could have access to inside information that would inform his trades. Dave Michaels, WSJ, "Wilbur Ross Sale to Cover Holdings Worth Potentially Tens of Millions," 13 July 2018 Thanks to Senator Donnelly more than 2.7 million Hoosiers with pre-existing conditions still have access to affordable health care. Chuck Todd, NBC News, "Worst fears realized in Trump's overseas trip — and it's not over yet," 13 July 2018 About 2,500 people around the state have access to that system. Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Russians attempted to break into Wisconsin voter registration system, but state not mentioned in indictment," 13 July 2018 The emergence of streaming means that audiences have access to Drake’s music in an immediate way that doesn’t require direct purchase, so even the curious listener contributes to Drake’s omnipresence as much as a die hard fan. Stereo Williams, Billboard, "Drake's 2018 Has Been Huge. But Is He the Biggest Rapper Ever?," 13 July 2018 This means that, in fields levelled by ploughing, crops growing over archaeological remains have access to more water and better nutrients. The Economist, "Dry weather is helping archaeologists discover ancient sites," 12 July 2018 The new law left many citizens confused as to who had access to certain areas of the beach. Jacob Sweet, miamiherald, "Contradicting law he signed, Gov. Rick Scott orders that Florida beaches be kept open to public," 12 July 2018 Both Portland and Russell have high numbers of residents who don't have access to reliable transportation, and the store will serve as a convenient stop for people who need something fast but who can't just drive to the nearest grocery store. Bailey Loosemore, The Courier-Journal, "Dare to Care opens pop-up shop to address west Louisville food desert," 12 July 2018 As Cox writes: In many cases, both teams will have access to this data and, hence, both sides would be aware of any potential patterns. Umair Irfan, Vox, "World Cup shootouts: why the team that goes first usually wins," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Scientists have only recently been able to access the Iceman’s stomach; for many years after the discovery of his body, researchers couldn’t find it. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Before He Died, Ötzi the Iceman Ate a Greasy, Fatty Meal," 13 July 2018 By going through InBenta, the hacking group known as Magecart was able to access payment information. Jacob Taylor /, NBC News, "Ticketmaster data theft part of larger credit card scheme, security firm says," 10 July 2018 But starting Wednesday, the public will be able to access the facility regularly this summer. David Gleisner, Daily Southtown, "Homewood Science Center to open Wednesdays, Saturdays," 10 July 2018 While the SEALs have been able to access the boys, who are between the ages of 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach since their disappearance, authorities have been struggling to determine the safest way to get them out. Madeleine Aggeler, The Cut, "Eight Thai Soccer Team Members Rescued From Flooded Cave (Updated)," 9 July 2018 Attackers were apparently able to access the system’s cloud servers because the company had not turned on multi-factor authentication. Chris Morris, Fortune, "Hackers Steal Personal Information of 21 Million Timehop Users," 9 July 2018 Being able to access such detailed information via technology has made his job far more efficient. Colin Campbell,, "'Life after sugar': Domino distribution manager retiring after half century at Baltimore refinery," 7 July 2018 What information was involved After logging in, the unauthorized party was able to access the customer's full name, address, phone number, email address, birthday and debit or credit card number with expiration dates. Caroline Blackmon, Detroit Free Press, "Macy's warns customers of online data breach," 6 July 2018 As a Muslim of Moroccan descent raised in Germany, Mekhennet, a Washington Post reporter, has been able to access inner circles of Islamic militants. Joumana Khatib, New York Times, "New in Paperback: ‘Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine,’ ‘The Fact of a Body’," 6 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'access.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of access


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a


1953, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for access


Middle English, "entrance, approach, attack of illness, fever, lovesickness," borrowed from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French acces "attack of illness," (Old French also "liberty to approach"), borrowed from Latin accessus "approach, means of entry, right of approach, onset (of fever or illness)," action noun derived from accēdere "to approach" — more at accede


derivative of access entry 1

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Statistics for access

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for access

The first known use of access was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for access


ac·cess | \ ˈak-ˌses \

Kids Definition of access

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the right or ability to approach, enter, or use Only a few have access to the secret information.

2 : a way or means of approaching access to the sea


accessed; accessing

Kids Definition of access (Entry 2 of 2)

: to get at : get access to “He's in the computer. We just can't access his records.” —Louis Sachar, Holes


noun, often attributive
ac·cess | \ ˈak-ˌses \

Legal Definition of access 

1 : permission, liberty, or ability to enter, approach, communicate with, or pass to and from a place, thing, or person public access to federal land access to the courts

2 : opportunity for sexual intercourse

3 : a landowner's legal right to pass from his or her land to a highway and to return without being obstructed

4 : freedom or ability to obtain, make use of, or participate in something the right to equal treatment holds with respect to a limited set of interests — like voting — and demands that every person have the same access to these interests —L. H. Tribe

5a : a way by which a thing or place may be approached or reached

b : passage to and from a place provide a means of access to the land

6 : opportunity to view or copy a copyrighted work

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Comments on access

What made you want to look up access? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


alleviating pain or harshness

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