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HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

To look up an entry in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, use the search window above. For best results, after typing in the word, click on the “Search” button instead of using the “enter” key.

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you type them in the search bar. For best results with compound words, place a quotation mark before the compound word in the search window.

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THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. Annual surveys have gauged the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

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THE AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY BLOG

The articles in our blog examine new words, revised definitions, interesting images from the fifth edition, discussions of usage, and more.

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See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

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100 Words
100 Words Almost Everyone Confuses and Misuses

As an autumn chill creeps into the air, students and teachers are gearing up for another school year. The must-have resource to keep kids, and adults, at the top of their class is 100 Words Almost Everyone Confuses and Misuses, the latest in the very successful 100 Words series. Anxiety about education and student performance are at the top of everyone's agenda — from politicians to parents — and this volume addresses those concerns seriously but with a playful approach. Knowing the subtle but important differences between words can make for more effective (not affective) and eloquent communication.


The following is the entire list of words almost everyone confuses and misuses:


adverse / averse
affect / effect
aggravate
alleged
all right
altogether
among / between
assure / ensure / insure
auger / augur
average / median
blatant / flagrant
capital / capitol
complement / compliment
comprise
consul / council / counsel
convince / persuade
discreet / discrete
disinterested / uninterested
enervate
enormity / enormousness
factoid
fewer / less
flammable / inflammable
flaunt / flout
forte
gender / sex
hopefully
impact
impeach
imply / infer
incredible / incredulous
irony
irregardless
its / it's
kudos
lay / lie
leave / let
literally
mass / weight
mean
mischievous
nuclear
parameter
penultimate
peruse
phenomenon
plus
precipitate / precipitous
prescribe / proscribe
presently
principal / principle
renown
reticent
sacrilegious
seasonable / seasonal
sensual / sensuous
set / sit
that / which
unexceptionable / unexceptional
unique
utilize / use
wherefore
wreak / wreck
zoology


Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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