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 Providing on-site testing ensures that employees actually do get tested and also gives them ease of access. Megan Cerullo, CBS News, "What companies can do to help keep employees safe when they return to work," 20 May 2020 There will be some sections of Maple Avenue closed with access to only those living on Maple Avenue. Cathy Kozlowicz, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Here are the major road construction projects this summer in Germantown, Menomonee Falls and Sussex," 20 May 2020 But Dorsey’s grant will cover the cost of internet access to poor families for only a year, Silver said. Joe Garofoli,, "Pandemic widens digital divide — Congress may spend billions to narrow it," 19 May 2020 Download the KaraFun app to your laptop, tablet, or smartphone and pay $6 for two days of access to 35,000 songs. Michael Calore, Wired, "All the Gear You Need to Throw a DIY Karaoke Party," 19 May 2020 On the other hand, different communities, in different countries, have different levels of access to resources. Alexis Okeowo, The New Yorker, "Riz Ahmed Is Rethinking What Matters," 17 May 2020 Its hip, relaxed accommodations come with access to the hotel’s digital concierge, Kipsu, who’s available by text no matter the time of day. 4. Adam Lapetina, Travel + Leisure, "10 Affordable and Stylish Hotels in Los Angeles," 16 May 2020 Health officials have cited higher poverty rates and a historic lack of access to health care as among the reasons African Americans suffer from a higher rate of conditions that put them at risk, including cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. Deborah Yetter, The Courier-Journal, "Passport, other Medicaid plans seeking out people most at risk if they contract COVID-19," 15 May 2020 With schools shut down, students who relied on school for pads and tampons no longer have access. Fortune, "How she fundraised for her startup while quarantined with 6 kids," 15 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Suicidal people without in-person peer support, or who can't access it during social distancing, can build connections online. USA Today, "The life-saving lesson suicidal people can teach a world in pandemic," 21 May 2020 So what’s happening now when kids can’t access that care?, "Missed milestones, loneliness take a toll on teens' mental health," 17 May 2020 This did not sit well with some cystic fibrosis patients who’d given a lot of time and money to the organization over the years, nor with Medicaid patients who couldn’t access the treatment. Audrey Farley, The New Republic, "The Nonprofit Grifters Who Want a Cut of the Coronavirus Bailout," 14 May 2020 Warbritton likes to home in on these areas and access them by boat. Matthew Every, Outdoor Life, "Float a Canoe into a Big Buck’s Bedding Area for the Ultimate Whitetail Hunt," 8 May 2020 Around 700 families live on the island, which can only be accessed by boat. Madeleine Carlisle, Time, "Reports: Wealthy Florida Island Community Qualified for Millions in COVID-19 Stimulus Funds, But Residents Turned the Money Down," 25 Apr. 2020 Another YouGov poll in 2018 found that just 4% of people supported a system similar to that found in the United States, where private insurance and wealth largely determines who can access medical care. Luke Reader, The Conversation, "Why Boris Johnson won’t have to pay any hospital bills," 16 Apr. 2020 One is run by HSBC, a British bank that is one of the territory’s main conduits for accessing American dollars. The Economist, "Bucking the trend The dollar’s dominance masks China’s rise in finance," 16 Apr. 2020 An easy way to access this help is with a meditation app. Charlyne Mattox, Country Living, "How to Stay Calm in Stressful Situations," 6 Apr. 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

24 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Access.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 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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