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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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The distinguishing characteristics are found in the dwarfed, useless front legs and the absence of scales upon the antennae.

    Butterflies Worth Knowing Clarence M. Weed
  • This rids us of one hypothesis: the sense of direction is not exercised by the antennae.

    The Mason-bees J. Henri Fabre
  • Arista: a specialized bristle or process on antennae of certain Diptera.

  • Nevertheless, she is constantly feeling the ground with her antennae.

    The Mason-bees J. Henri Fabre
  • Here the males have one or the other of the first pair of antennae modified into a grasping organ for holding the female.

  • It feels the surface with its antennae, which are bent at a right angle after the first joint.

    The Mason-bees J. Henri Fabre
  • Ray slipped hurriedly away, while the green forest of antennae was still growing up from the water about the girl.

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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