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

Along César Chávez Boulevard, Hammer said his team put one node antenna on top of a traffic light and placed the components of the small cell node inside of a nearby street-side recycling bin. Diego Mendoza-moyers,, "5G: What is it, and how will it change your life?," 2 Sep. 2019 The huge size—nearly that of a box of cereal—holds six internal antennas, giving you a strong signal and near-blanket coverage. Don Melanson, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Wifi Extenders for Blazing Fast Internet at Home," 29 Aug. 2019 Yet few contemporary British writers possess keener antennae for the background hum of public affairs. The Economist, "Mick Herron’s novels are a satirical chronicle of modern Britain," 15 Aug. 2019 Two wiry antennae sprouted from the top of its head, each topped with an eye the size of a ping-pong ball. Mary Ann Grossmann, Twin Cities, "New children’s books cover a lot of territory: first steps, sci-fi and math, and Little Free Libraries," 11 Aug. 2019 The massive effort involved snipping and analyzing antennae from tens of thousands of bees taken from some 600 colonies across western Canada. Erik Stokstad, Science | AAAS, "Breeders toughen up bees to resist deadly mites," 25 July 2019 The complex is close to completion with a hangar, offices, fuel farm, warehouse and antenna for telemetry and communications. Bloomberg,, "Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space-tourism venture is going public," 9 July 2019 The dual-band extender features four antennas, which gives a ton of coverage (though less than the most powerful models here). Don Melanson, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Wifi Extenders for Blazing Fast Internet at Home," 29 Aug. 2019 There are other options for these subscribers to get CBS, including digital antennas, broadband TV and CBS All Access, but the latter two options would mean more money for the consumers to spend. Kirkland Crawford, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions may be blacked out on TV again for some viewers. Here's how," 25 July 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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Statistics for antenna

Last Updated

8 Oct 2019

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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
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

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