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[skan-er] /ˈskæn ər/
a person or thing that scans.
optical scanner.
See under optical scanning.
Photography. any device for exposing an image on film, a sensitized plate, etc., by tracing light along a series of many closely spaced parallel lines.
(in aerial photography) a device for estimating the ratio of aircraft speed to aircraft altitude.
a photoelectric device for scanning a picture to determine automatically the density of the hue or value in each area for transmission by wire or radio or for preparation of color process printing plates.
a computer-aided electronic system using photoelectric cells to separate copy, as color illustrations, into its primary colors, correct color copy, and produce a set of color separations ready for proofing or printing.
Radio. a radio receiver, used especially by police, firefighters, and the press, that continuously tunes to preselected frequencies, broadcasting any signal that it detects.
Medicine/Medical, Biology. a device for examining a body, organ, tissue, or other biologically active material.
Origin of scanner
1550-60; scan + -er1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for scanner
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Half an hour later, the scanner gave him another interruption pattern.

    Little Fuzzy Henry Beam Piper
  • I'll get this scanner set up again, and we'll be ready to load out.

    The Players Everett B. Cole
  • The ship lurched into a direction-change that threatened to wrench the hull apart, and the picture in the scanner reeled crazily.

    A Gift For Terra Fox B. Holden
  • James stopped talking, pulled out his scanner, stuck his face into it.

    The Galaxy Primes Edward Elmer Smith
  • He peered at the scanner screen, then cried, "There he is, sir!"

British Dictionary definitions for scanner


a person or thing that scans
a device, usually electronic, used to measure or sample the distribution of some quantity or condition in a particular system, region, or area
an aerial or similar device designed to transmit or receive signals, esp radar signals, inside a given solid angle of space, thus allowing a particular region to be scanned
any of various devices used in medical diagnosis to obtain an image of an internal organ or part See CAT scanner, nuclear magnetic resonance scanner, ultrasound scanner
(informal) a television outside broadcast vehicle
short for optical scanner
(printing) an electronic device which scans printed material and converts it to digital form
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 scanner

1550s, "person who examines critically," agent noun from scan (v.). From 1927 as a type of mechanical device, in mid-20c. use especially of radar and medical devices; later of computer accessories.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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scanner in Technology

1. An input device that takes in an optical image and digitises it into an electronic image represented as binary data. This can be used to create a computerised version of a photo or illustration.
A scanner may be linked to optical character recognition software allowing printed documents to be converted to electronic text without having to type them in at a keyboard.
2. lexical analyser.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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