ac·​cess | \ ˈak-ˌses How to pronounce access (audio) also ik-ˈses How to pronounce access (audio) \

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

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of access in a Sentence

Noun We have Internet access at the library. a sudden access of hay fever was making him feel miserable Verb 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 bloc aims to revise the list of countries allowed to enter every two weeks based on developments, with new countries joining or possibly even denied access to Europe depending on the spread of the disease. Lorne Cook, Anchorage Daily News, "Europe is reopening its borders, but US citizens are likely to be banned," 24 June 2020 Even in Kentucky, where bipartisan changes were made in an attempt to expand access to the polls, there were still issues. Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY, "AOC’s blowout win, last-minute voting in Kentucky and other key takeaways from Tuesday’s primary," 24 June 2020 There were claims of unsafe behavior, hogging of shade space and chaise lounges and demands for changes to fees and access. Jeff Forward, Houston Chronicle, "The Woodlands summer swimming season to remain limited to 7 community pools," 24 June 2020 Last June, the Myanmar government, led by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, cut internet access to nine townships in the area due to concerns that it was being used to inflame clashes between the Myanmar military and insurgents. Eliza Mackintosh, CNN, "What you need to know about coronavirus on Wednesday, June 24," 24 June 2020 In vast parts of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Asia, that meant there was little money from international donors and little pressure on governments to invest in oxygen knowledge, access or infrastructure. Fox News, "Medical oxygen scarce in world's poorest regions during coronavirus pandemic," 24 June 2020 The organization has committed about $23 million Canadian ($17.3 million U.S.) to secure access to land in South Bruce for geological analysis. Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, "Canadian utility formally drops underground radioactive waste storage next to Lake Huron," 24 June 2020 Esoteric plans to designate a portion of its proceeds to non-profits in the Walnut Hills community that promote education, economic equity, improve food access, provide skills training and other important causes that make the neighborhood better. Matt Koesters, The Enquirer, "Meet Cincinnati's first minority-owned brewery, Esoteric Brewing Co.," 24 June 2020 Beijing’s ability to freeze U.S. access to medical supplies manufactured by American companies in China underscored the national security stakes of the economic clash. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, "Jared Kushner ally joins with Pentagon to move critical industries out of China," 24 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Fans will only be able to leave their pods to access single restrooms, which See said will be cleaned regularly throughout the show. USA TODAY, "Live Nation launches first drive-in concert series amid coronavirus pandemic," 23 June 2020 Ultimately, the city intends that first responders will be able to access this network of live camera feeds for real-time traffic updates during accidents and other major events. Teri Webster, Dallas News, "To ease traffic headaches, Plano looks to install 150 new cameras at intersections," 23 June 2020 Fans will only be able to leave their pods to access single restrooms, which See said will be cleaned regularly throughout the show. Time, "Live Nation Announces First-Ever Drive-In Concert Series Scheduled for July," 22 June 2020 Fans will only be able to leave their pods to access single restrooms, which See said will be cleaned regularly throughout the show. Mesfin Fekadu, Fortune, "Live Nation announces a drive-in concert series for July," 22 June 2020 If you’re accused of a crime, police and prosecutors can get a warrant to access your social media accounts, or other users’ accounts that could serve as evidence in the case. Gilad Edelman, Wired, "Facebook and Twitter Want to Keep the Justice System Stacked Against Defendants," 19 June 2020 Doctors have struggled to access remdesivir, the antiviral produced by Gilead Sciences, since studies showed the drug improved recovery time in coronavirus patients. Katherine Ellen Foley, Quartz, "Dexamethasone’s supply chain is the most exciting thing about it," 18 June 2020 On the day of the party, viewers will be able to access a voter registration portal in the live chat section of the event. Tanya A. Christian, Essence, "Michelle Obama Is Partnering With The Roots For An Epic Party," 16 June 2020 Wolber said the county is meeting its same demands or better with people being able to access online services 24-7. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, "Here's how reopened city halls, libraries will look in metro Detroit," 15 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for access

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for access

Last Updated

27 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Access.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for access


ac·​cess | \ ˈak-ˌses How to pronounce access (audio) \

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 How to pronounce access (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on access

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for access

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with access

Spanish Central: Translation of access

Nglish: Translation of access for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of access for Arabic Speakers

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