an·​ten·​na an-ˈte-nə How to pronounce antenna (audio)
plural antennae an-ˈte-(ˌ)nē How to pronounce antenna (audio) or antennas
plural antennae : one of a pair of slender, movable, segmented sensory organs on the head of insects, myriapods, and crustaceans see insect illustration
: a usually metallic device (such as a rod or wire) for radiating or receiving radio waves
a TV antenna
antennae plural : a special sensitivity or receptiveness
… his political antennae proved to be shrewder than ever.Erich Segal
antennal adjective

Did you know?

The Latin word antenna meant “sail yard,” which is the long spar that supports and spreads the sail on a sailing vessel. The Greek word for a sail yard was keraia, but that was only one meaning of this word. The primary meaning was “horn.” The philosopher Aristotle used keraiai to describe the feelers of insects, probably because of their resemblance to the horns of some larger animals. In a Latin translation of Aristotle’s work made during the Renaissance, the word antennae was used for Greek keraiai. In English we still use antennae for insects’ feelers. And now we also use antenna for the metal rods that pick up radio waves and seem to “feel the air” like the antennae of an insect.

Examples of antenna in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Gero held the antenna aloft and put his ear to some kind of receiver. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 4 Sep. 2023 That said, much of the satellite is functioning, save for a defective antenna. Michael Kan, PCMAG, 25 Aug. 2023 The school district is also working with the village’s Public Safety Department by installing antennas in the schools. Daniel I. Dorfman, Chicago Tribune, 15 Aug. 2023 Last month, a three-man team successfully directed a drone to hit their target — a cluster of antennas in a town occupied by Russian troops. Paulina Villegas, Washington Post, 6 Aug. 2023 This is mainly due to the fact that Sling requires a digital antenna and AirTV device to access most local stations. Stacey Nguyen, Peoplemag, 3 Aug. 2023 This technique adjusts the phase of the signals leaving each of several antennas in such a way that radio waves interfere with one another constructively in one direction and destructively in other directions. Michael Watts, IEEE Spectrum, 20 Aug. 2023 The unexpected change means ground antennas of the Deep Space Network (DSN) can't receive any data from or transmit any further commands to the probe. Matthew Humphries, PCMAG, 31 July 2023 Another way to watch the ESPYs and the NBA Finals for free on your TV is with an HDTV antenna. oregonlive, 12 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'antenna.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Medieval Latin, from Latin, sail yard

First Known Use

1698, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of antenna was in 1698

Dictionary Entries Near antenna

Cite this Entry

“Antenna.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


an·​ten·​na an-ˈten-ə How to pronounce antenna (audio)
plural antennae -ˈten-(ˌ)ē How to pronounce antenna (audio) or antennas
plural usually antennae : one of a pair of slender movable organs of sensation on the head of an arthropod (as an insect or a crab) that are made up of segments
plural usually antennas : a device (as a rod or wire) for sending or receiving radio waves

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