\ ˈskan How to pronounce scan (audio) \
scanned; scanning

Definition of scan

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to read or mark so as to show metrical structure scan poetry
2 : to examine by point-by-point observation or checking:
a : to investigate thoroughly by checking point by point and often repeatedly a fire lookout scanning the hills with binoculars
b : to glance from point to point of often hastily, casually, or in search of a particular item scan the want ads looking for a job
3a : to examine systematically (as by passing a beam of radiation over or through) in order to obtain data especially for display or storage scanned the patient's heart radar scans the horizon scan the photos into the computer
b : to pass over in the formation of an image the electron beam scans the picture tube

intransitive verb

1 : to scan verse
2 : to conform to a metrical pattern this poem scans well



Definition of scan (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act or process of scanning
2 : a radar or television trace
3 : an image formed by scanning something: such as
a : a depiction (such as a photograph) of the distribution of a radioactive material in something (such as a bodily organ)
b : an image of a bodily part produced (as by computer) by combining ultrasonic or radiographic data obtained from several angles or sections

Other Words from scan


scannable \ ˈska-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce scan (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for scan


scrutinize, scan, inspect, examine mean to look at or over. scrutinize stresses close attention to minute detail. scrutinized the hospital bill scan implies a surveying from point to point often suggesting a cursory overall observation. scanned the wine list inspect implies scrutinizing for errors or defects. inspected my credentials examine suggests a scrutiny in order to determine the nature, condition, or quality of a thing. examined the specimens

Examples of scan in a Sentence

Verb He scanned the field with binoculars. He scanned the audience looking for his parents. She scanned his face for any clue to what he was thinking. She quickly scanned the pages of the newspaper. She scanned through the list to find her name. Their bags were scanned at the airport. This machine scans a patient's brain. Noun The patient underwent a brain scan. The doctor examined the bone scans. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb On Android, Microsoft Defender can scan other apps for malicious code and can offer protection against phishing by scanning links. Chris Smith, BGR, 16 June 2022 Then, scan the QR code, and the oven works its magic, cooking your meal in 20 minutes or less. Stefani Sassos, Ms, Rdn, Cso, Cdn, Nasm-cpt, Good Housekeeping, 16 June 2022 What if, for example, instead of a human auditor sampling 30 items, an algorithm can scan every single transaction (including huge amounts of data) and find patterns, pick up anomalies and estimate the impact of any irregularities? Isaac Heller, Forbes, 15 June 2022 Each light pole has a QR code posted at the base, so residents can scan it and read the history of each flag. Lydia Morrell, Journal Sentinel, 14 June 2022 Users can scan a pill bottle to search for a medication and easily schedule reminders to take it. Casey Ross, STAT, 8 June 2022 Though guests cannot walk into a front desk lobby area to book a room, visitors can scan a QR code on the front door of the property to see available rooms for that night. Sofia Krusmark, The Arizona Republic, 3 June 2022 The readers, attached to cameras stationed throughout the county, scan every vehicle within range and can record thousands of license plates each day. Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 1 June 2022 The screeners can scan 3,600 people per hour, according to the company. David Porter,, 1 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There wasn’t a major revelation from the scan and studies, Schrock said, but there was a peace of mind in finding some small things that should help him. Bobby Nightengale, The Enquirer, 17 June 2022 In May, the FBI released the first 1,035 pages, which included some historical research, the data from the promising geophysical scan, and many, many photos from the excavation. Chris Heath, The Atlantic, 17 June 2022 The viral clip to which the Gen Z darling was referring featured an ultrasound that was edited to look like Zendaya posted the scan as a pregnancy announcement on Instagram. Nardine Saadstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 15 June 2022 The data collected from the initial scan produced raw images that were too noisy to reveal much additional detail. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 29 Apr. 2022 One tenant said the facial scan required for one of the background checks was unsettling., 23 Apr. 2022 Katarzyna Kononczuk, a volunteer physician from Bialystok, Poland, asked about the girl’s first tumor, the remission, the MRI scan that showed a recurrence. Washington Post, 27 Mar. 2022 Dennard get a medical scan to see if the metal in her toe needed to be removed. Fox19 & Enquirer Staff, The Enquirer, 25 Apr. 2022 An imaging scan of his head early the next morning showed an extensive brain bleed. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, 31 Dec. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scan.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of scan


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1706, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for scan


Middle English scannen, from Late Latin scandere, from Latin, to climb; akin to Middle Irish sceinnid he springs, Sanskrit skandati he leaps

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The first known use of scan was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

25 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Scan.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for scan


\ ˈskan How to pronounce scan (audio) \
scanned; scanning

Kids Definition of scan

1 : to examine or look over carefully He scanned the field with binoculars.
2 : to look through or over quickly I scanned the headlines of the newspaper.
3 : to examine with a special device (as a scanner) especially to obtain information My bag was scanned at the airport.


\ ˈskan How to pronounce scan (audio) \
scanned; scanning

Medical Definition of scan

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to examine especially systematically with a sensing device (as a photometer or a beam of radiation)
b : to pass an electron beam over and convert (an image) into variations of electrical properties (as voltage) that convey information electronically
2 : to make a scan of (as the human body) in order to detect the presence or localization of radioactive material

intransitive verb

: to make a scan of the body or of an organ or part



Medical Definition of scan (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act or process of scanning
2a : a depiction (as a photograph) of the distribution of a radioactive material in something (as a bodily organ)
b : an image of a bodily part produced (as by computer) by combining ultrasonographic or radiographic data obtained from several angles or sections

More from Merriam-Webster on scan

Nglish: Translation of scan for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of scan for Arabic Speakers


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