use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

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. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

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.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

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

Find out more!

fol·low (fŏlō)
Share:
v. fol·lowed, fol·low·ing, fol·lows
v.tr.
1.
a. To come or go after; proceed behind: Follow the usher to your seat.
b. To go after in pursuit: would follow his enemy to the ends of the earth.
c. To keep under surveillance: The agent followed the suspect around town.
2.
a. To move along the course of; take: We followed the path.
b. To move in the direction of; be guided by: followed the sun westward; followed the signs to the zoo.
c. To lie in the same path as: The road follows the old trading route.
d. To be parallel to: The road follows the river.
3. To accept the guidance, command, or leadership of: follow a spiritual master; rebels who refused to follow their leader.
4. To adhere to; practice: followed family traditions.
5. To take as a model or precedent; imitate: followed my example and resigned.
6.
a. To act in agreement or compliance with; obey: follow the rules; follow one's instincts.
b. To keep to or stick to: followed the recipe; follow a diet.
7. To engage in (a trade or occupation); work at.
8. To come after in order, time, or position: Night follows day.
9. To bring something about at a later time than or as a consequence of: She followed her lecture with a question-and-answer period. The band followed its hit album with a tour.
10. To occur or be evident as a consequence of: Your conclusion does not follow your premise.
11.
a. To watch or observe closely: followed the bird through binoculars.
b. To be attentive to; pay close heed to: too sleepy to follow the sermon.
c. To keep oneself informed of the course, progress, or fortunes of: follow the stock market; followed the local teams.
12. To grasp the meaning or logic of; understand: Do you follow my argument?
v.intr.
1. To come, move, or take place after another person or thing in order or time.
2. To occur or be evident as a consequence; result: If you ignore your diet, trouble will follow.
3. To grasp the meaning or reasoning of something; understand.
n.
Games A billiards shot in which the cue ball is struck above center so that it follows the path of the object ball after impact.
Phrasal Verbs:
follow along
To move or proceed in unison or in accord with an example: followed along with the song.
follow through
1. Sports To carry a stroke to natural completion after hitting or releasing a ball or other object.
2. To carry an act, project, or intention to completion; pursue fully: followed through on her promise to fix the oven.
follow up
To increase the effectiveness or enhance the success of by further action: followed up her interview with an email.
Idioms:
as follows
As will be stated next. Used to introduce a specified enumeration, explanation, or command.
follow (one's) nose
1. To move straight ahead or in a direct path.
2. Informal To be guided by instinct: had no formal training but became a success by following his nose.
follow suit
1. Games To play a card of the same suit as the one led.
2. To do as another has done; follow an example.

[Middle English folowen, from Old English folgian.]

follow·er·ship n.

Synonyms: follow, succeed, ensue, result
These verbs mean to come after something or someone. Follow, the most general, refers to people or things that come after another in time or order or as a consequence or result: You go first, and we'll follow. He disregarded doctor's orders, and a relapse soon followed. To succeed is to come next after another, especially in planned order determined by considerations such as rank, inheritance, or election: The heir apparent succeeded to the throne. Ensue and result are used only of events or conditions that follow another in time. Ensue usually applies to what is a consequence: After the government was toppled, chaos ensued. Result implies that what follows is caused by what has preceded: Driving over the speed limit can result in a fine.

Usage Note: As follows (not as follow) is the established form of the idiom regardless of whether the noun that precedes it is singular or plural: The regulations are as follows.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.