an·​ten·​na | \an-ˈte-nə \
plural antennae\-​(ˌ)nē \ 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 \-​ˈte-​nᵊl \ 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

As part of its 5G plans, EE is launching 5G home broadband service, which will pair a specialized router and external antenna to bring higher speeds to UK homes. Nick Statt, The Verge, "One of Europe’s biggest carriers is bringing 5G service to 16 UK cities next year," 13 Nov. 2018 Unlike past generations of telecom technology, 5G transmissions can travel only a short distance, requiring more antennas. Rachel Lerman, The Seattle Times, "City of Seattle fighting federal government’s new 5G rules," 2 Oct. 2018 Brightline’s Wi-Fi signal is fast, steady, and even strong enough to stream or play video games (having 12 4G Wi-Fi antennas on each train car helps). Paul Rubio, Condé Nast Traveler, "Riding the Brightline, America’s Train of the Future," 25 Sep. 2018 The company plans to put 28 antennas on the tower immediately, and another 12 within 18 months of it being built. Steve Lord, Aurora Beacon-News, "Scientel headquarters will come to Aurora," 11 Jan. 2018 Once tagged, the bats are freed and tracked with a device that resembles a Speak & Spell toy attached to an antenna. Justin Wm. Moyer, Washington Post, "A mysterious disease is killing millions of bats. These scientists are trying to save them.," 12 July 2018 Those transmissions can be intercepted using free computer software and an antenna that costs less than $30, equipment often used by radio or tech hobbyists. Andy Marso And Kelsey Ryan, kansascity, "Does your hospital still use pagers? Your personal information may be at risk," 22 June 2018 As Hawking's ashes are being interred between the graves of Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton at a memorial service Friday at Westminster Abbey, an antenna in Spain will beam his voice out into space, toward a black hole. Elizabeth Elkin And Brandon Griggs, CNN, "Stephen Hawking's voice will be beamed 3,500 light years into space," 14 June 2018 The Stick+ itself performs well and loads apps quickly, helped in part by an external Wi-Fi antenna. Jeff Dunn, Ars Technica, "The Ars Technica Father’s Day gift guide," 13 June 2018

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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Statistics for antenna

Last Updated

19 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for antenna

The first known use of antenna was in 1698

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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

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


an·​ten·​na | \an-ˈte-nə \

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with antenna

Spanish Central: Translation of antenna

Nglish: Translation of antenna for Spanish Speakers

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

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