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[an-ten-uh] /ænˈtɛn ə/
noun, plural antennas for 1, antennae
[an-ten-ee] /ænˈtɛn i/ (Show IPA),
for 2.
a conductor by which electromagnetic waves are sent out or received, consisting commonly of a wire or set of wires; aerial.
Zoology. one of the jointed, movable, sensory appendages occurring in pairs on the heads of insects and most other arthropods.
Origin of antenna
1640-50; < Latin: a sailyard
Related forms
antennal, adjective
postantennal, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for antennae
  • Some forms of springtails caress each other with their antennae before mating.
  • The main panel bears a red rectangular block, an anthropomorphic character with antennae, and what appears to be a bighorn sheep.
  • Mock wireless antennae of bamboo and rope had been erected to receive in advance the news of the millennium.
  • We think the antennae are one of the keys but there are also gustatory receptors in the mouth and legs.
  • Watch a bit more, and the hesitant flicks and sags of their antennae seem to convey some kind of emotion.
  • Their long antennae scan the air for whiffs of rotten fruits and other treats.
  • Lurking in these holes, the ants grab the legs and antennae of unsuspecting insects.
  • The antennae and legs are folded around its body, and even its mouth parts can be seen in the imprint.
  • They touch each other with mouths, forelegs, or antennae.
  • The key to commercialising this idea is that such antennae can be stamped by the billion on to plastic sheets.
British Dictionary definitions for antennae


(pl) -nae (-naɪ). one of a pair of mobile appendages on the heads of insects, crustaceans, etc, that are often whiplike and respond to touch and taste but may be specialized for swimming or attachment
(pl) -nas another name for aerial (sense 7)
Derived Forms
antennal, antennary, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin: sail yard, of obscure origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for antennae

Latinate plural of antenna; see -ae.



1640s, "feeler or horn of an insect," from Latin antenna "sail yard," the long yard that sticks up on some sails, of unknown origin, perhaps from PIE root *temp- "to stretch, extend." In the etymological sense, it is a loan-translation of Aristotle's Greek keraiai "horns" (of insects). Modern use in radio, etc., for "aerial wire" is from 1902. Adjectival forms are antennal (1834), antennary (1836), antennular (1858).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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antennae in Science
  1. One of a pair of long, slender, segmented appendages on the heads of insects, centipedes, millipedes, and crustaceans. Most antennae are organs of touch, but some are sensitive to odors and other stimuli.

  2. A metallic device for sending or receiving electromagnetic waves, such as radio waves. Some antennas can send waves in or receive waves from all directions; others are designed to work only in a range of directions.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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