an·​ten·​na | \ an-ˈte-nə How to pronounce antenna (audio) \
plural antennae\ an-​ˈte-​(ˌ)nē How to pronounce antenna (audio) \ or antennas

Definition of antenna

1 plural antennae : one of a pair of slender, movable, segmented sensory organs on the head of insects, myriapods, and crustaceans — see insect illustration
2 : a usually metallic device (such as a rod or wire) for radiating or receiving radio waves a TV antenna
3 antennae plural : a special sensitivity or receptiveness … his political antennae proved to be shrewder than ever.— Erich Segal

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Other Words from antenna

antennal \ an-​ˈte-​nᵊl How to pronounce antenna (audio) \ 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 Such arrays, which combine signals from individual antennas spread over large distances, act as telescopes with resolutions far greater than would be possible with a single antenna and can effectively pinpoint sources in the sky. Anil Ananthaswamy, Scientific American, "Telescopes on Far Side of the Moon Could Illuminate the Cosmic Dark Ages," 15 Jan. 2021 The SiriusXM-7 satellite features a large deployable antenna to broadcast radio programming directly to homes, businesses, cars, trucks and other vehicles. William Harwood, CBS News, "SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches radio broadcasting satellite for SiriusXM," 14 Dec. 2020 Critically, the bottle had to orient itself such that its antenna pointed skyward, not toward the river bottom. Matt Simon, Wired, "The Incredible Journey of the Electronic Plastic Bottle," 2 Dec. 2020 Most work by connecting the antenna to the DVR, and then connecting the DVR to the TV with an HDMI cable. Star Tribune, "Sound Advice: TV antenna use doesn't rule out adding a DVR," 29 Jan. 2021 Yacich and his colleagues assembled the first antenna for WDSU-TV in a local railroad yard then hauled it atop the Hibernia Bank building on Gravier Street, where the station began broadcasting in 1948. Dominic J. Massa,, "Paul Yacich, New Orleans television pioneer and Morgus director, dies at 93," 24 Dec. 2020 In flight, the Il-80 unspools a wire-like, very low-frequency antenna that's several kilometers long, which is designed to keep the leadership in contact with Moscow’s fleet of ballistic missile submarines. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Thieves Break Into Russia’s Nuclear War 'Doomsday' Jet," 10 Dec. 2020 The dish antenna, made up of nearly 40,000 aluminum panels, was built into a depression left by a sinkhole. William Harwood, CBS News, "Iconic Arecibo Observatory radio telescope faces demolition after cable failures," 19 Nov. 2020 When you’re all set, press the button that looks like a C with an antenna (the Cricut logo) to start the cutting. Allen Foster,, "Cricut Maker review: Can this popular machine take your crafting to the next level?," 11 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'antenna.' 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 antenna

1698, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for antenna

Medieval Latin, from Latin, sail yard

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Time Traveler for antenna

Time Traveler

The first known use of antenna was in 1698

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Statistics for antenna

Last Updated

18 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Antenna.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for antenna



English Language Learners Definition of antenna

: a thin sensitive organ on the head of an insect, crab, etc., that is used mainly to feel and touch things
chiefly US : a device (such as a wire or a metal rod) for sending or receiving radio or television signals


an·​ten·​na | \ an-ˈte-nə How to pronounce antenna (audio) \

Kids Definition of antenna

1 plural antennae\ -​ˈte-​nē \ : one of two or four threadlike movable feelers on the head of insects and crustaceans (as lobsters)
2 plural antennas : a metallic device (as a rod or wire) for sending or receiving radio waves

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More from Merriam-Webster on antenna

Nglish: Translation of antenna for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of antenna for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about antenna

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