an·​ten·​na | \ an-ˈte-nə How to pronounce antenna (audio) \
plural antennae\ an-​ˈte-​(ˌ)nē How to pronounce antennae (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 antennal (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 James Hopkins, 41, and Richard Belisle, 51, were fatally shot on April 12, 2012, while working at the U.S. Coast Guard antenna maintenance facility, about 1 1/2 miles from the Coast Guard’s larger base on Kodiak Island. Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News, "Man again receives life sentences in double murder at Kodiak Coast Guard site," 8 Jan. 2020 In December 2018, authorities stopped a third attempt, by a Chinese student, who was capturing images of buildings and antenna arrays at the same Navy installation. Justin Rohrlich, Quartz, "Chinese nationals caught surveilling same US military base twice in 2 weeks," 7 Jan. 2020 In terms of physical design, existing hardware is more than likely OK—the antenna design to transmit and receive 5GHz should also work well at 6GHz. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "Tired of hearing about Wi-Fi 6? Great, let’s talk about Wi-Fi 6E," 6 Jan. 2020 Hearst noted that customers seeking to use an over-the-air signal to continue watching its channels can visit to determine the type of antenna needed to receive the proper signals. Billy Kobin, The Courier-Journal, "Dispute between AT&T and Hearst impacts WLKY for DirecTV customers in Louisville," 4 Jan. 2020 The ultra-wideband radar and antenna capable of penetrating deep into ice generated a high-definition image of the ice layering in the deepest part of the ice sheet. Ken Roberts, al, "Alabama researchers help drill for ancient ice," 26 Dec. 2019 His body looks like its spinning in a million different directions, while his head somehow stays in place, antenna aimed forward like an English Pointer. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Why are Star Wars droids so loveable? It's science," 17 Dec. 2019 There were receiving and transmitting antennas scattered throughout those 102 acres. cleveland, "Plaque now marks Gates Mills environmental school’s historic past as Coast Guard radio station," 12 Dec. 2019 That makes them poor candidates for cellular-antenna towers. Christopher Schaberg, The Atlantic, "The Mobile Dead Zone on Airplanes," 1 Dec. 2019

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

15 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Antenna.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for antenna


How to pronounce antenna (audio)

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

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

Comments on antenna

What made you want to look up antenna? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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