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

The technology will be fully implemented next season with sensors embedded in player shoulder pads and in 40 pucks per game, transmitting data to antennae positioned in arena rafters. Geoff Baker, The Seattle Times, "Seattle’s team must prepare for incoming tidal wave of advanced NHL stats," 4 Feb. 2019 The company is largely limited to selling antennas and base stations for Canada’s wireless-radio access network. Jacquie Mcnish, WSJ, "Canada Faces Pressure to Ban Huawei Equipment," 7 Dec. 2018 Although Havana bans the importation of unauthorized telecommunications gear, Cubans have smuggled in parabolic antennas and other technologies for unmonitored internet access. Nora Gámez Torres, miamiherald, "Radio and TV Martí sneaked in same forbidden technology that landed Alan Gross in Cuban jail | Miami Herald," 30 Mar. 2018 Designers Kram/Weisshaar have debuted a wafer-thin table, the SmartSlab, which miraculously squeezes heating and cooling units, inductive cooking and charging modules, and wireless transponders and antennas into its sleek design. Kelsey Kloss, ELLE Decor, "A Smart Dining Table To Keep Food Warm And Drinks Cold," 19 Apr. 2016 Some of these services have the option for mobile viewing, but an antenna is the best option at home. Chris Welch, The Verge, "The best streaming TV apps," 12 Oct. 2018 An antenna is typically a collection of metal rods that pick up passing radio waves and convert their energy into an electrical current, which is then amplified. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "A new antenna using single atoms could usher in the age of atomic radio," 19 Sep. 2018 Vapor is developing miniaturized data centers that can be placed in small network facilities or at the base of cell towers, where wireless antennas and fiber-optic connections are already on hand. Drew Fitzgerald, WSJ, "With 5G on the Horizon, Startups See Potential in Small Data Hubs," 12 Sep. 2018 The antenna itself can be no larger than six cubic feet and can be no more than 10 feet above the utility pole. Steve Sadin,, "Deerfield moves to regulate small cell antennas," 9 July 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

12 Feb 2019

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
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 \

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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