noun an·ten·na \ an-ˈte-nə \
|Updated on: 13 Aug 2018

Definition of antenna

plural antennae play \-(ˌ)nē\ or antennas
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


play \-ˈte-nᵊl\ adjective

Recent Examples of antenna from the Web

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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.

Origin and Etymology of antenna

Medieval Latin, from Latin, sail yard

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ANTENNA Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of antenna for English Language Learners

  • : a thin sensitive organ on the head of an insect, crab, etc., that is used mainly to feel and touch things

  • : a device (such as a wire or a metal rod) for sending or receiving radio or television signals

ANTENNA Defined for Kids


noun an·ten·na \ an-ˈte-nə \

Definition of antenna for Students

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

History for antenna

In Greece more than two thousand years ago, the philosopher and naturalist Aristotle wrote a description of insects’ feelers. He used the Greek word keraia, which is derived from the word keras, “horn,” as a name for the feelers. The word keraia in Greek also means “sail yard,” the long piece of wood that spreads and supports the sails on a ship. Centuries later, when Aristotle's work was translated into Latin, the Latin word for a sail yard, antenna, was used to translate keraia. English later borrowed the word antenna from Latin.

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very hard to disturb or upset

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