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[on-lahyn, awn-] /ˈɒnˈlaɪn, ˈɔn-/
operating under the direct control of, or connected to, a main computer.
connected by computer to one or more other computers or networks, as through a commercial electronic information service or the Internet.
of or denoting a business that transmits electronic information over telecommunications lines:
an online bookstore.
available or operating on a computer or computer network:
an online dictionary.
by means of or using a computer:
online shopping.
Radio. (of a network) supplying affiliated stations with all or a substantial part of their programming.
Television. of or relating to the final editing of a videotaped program.
done or accomplished while in operation or active service:
online maintenance.
located on major routes or rail lines:
online industries.
with or through a computer, especially over a network.
Also, on-line, on line.
Compare offline.
Origin of online
1945-50 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for online
  • online college courses have proliferated, and so have financial aid scams.
  • Many faculty members say it takes more time to develop and teach online courses than traditional ones.
  • Vote now and help our online audience pick the best pIt's your turn.
  • The author asked some of his acquaintances for permission to break into their online banking accounts.
  • Whether for career development or their own edification, the culinarily curious can gorge on all kinds of food knowledge online.
  • People get married, divorced and die because of relationships that develop online.
  • Both nonprofit and for-profit colleges profit, usually handsomely, from providing online courses.
  • online retailers use a variety of incentives to goose holiday traffic, including coupon codes, newsletters and free shipping.
  • It was promoted as the next big thing in online shopping.
  • In some circles, online education has a bad reputation.
British Dictionary definitions for online


of, relating to, or concerned with a peripheral device that is directly connected to and controlled by the central processing unit of a computer
of or relating to the internet: online shopping
occurring as part of, or involving, a continuous sequence of operations, such as a production line
while connected to a computer or the internet
See offline
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 online

in reference to computers, "directly connected to a peripheral device," 1950 (originally as on-line).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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online in Science
Connected to or accessible by means of a computer or computer network.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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online in Culture

online definition

A term referring to locations on or use of the Internet. The term can be used to refer to a specific location or Web page (“Our sales catalogues can be found online at — ”) or to a personal activity (“I went online to find the information you wanted.”)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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