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!

pam·per (pămpər)
Share:
tr.v. pam·pered, pam·per·ing, pam·pers
1. To treat with excessive indulgence: pampered their child.
2. To give in to; gratify: He pampered his ambition for wealth and fame.
3. Archaic To indulge with rich food; glut.

[Middle English pamperen, probably of Low German origin.]

pamper·er n.

Synonyms: pamper, indulge, humor, spoil, coddle, mollycoddle, baby
These verbs all mean to cater excessively to someone or to his or her desires or feelings. To pamper is to gratify appetites, tastes, or desires: "tempting stores of everything to stimulate and pamper the sated appetite and give new relish to the oft-repeated feast" (Charles Dickens).
Indulge suggests a kindly or excessive lenience in yielding especially to wishes or impulses better left unfulfilled: "You mustn't think because I indulge you in some things that you can keep everyone waiting" (Theodore Dreiser).
Humor implies compliance with or accommodation to another's mood or idiosyncrasies: "Human life is ... but like a froward child, that must be played with and humored a little to keep it quiet till it falls asleep" (William Temple).
Spoil implies excessive indulgence that adversely affects the character, nature, or attitude: "My pupil was a lively child, who had been spoiled and indulged, and, therefore, was sometimes wayward" (Charlotte Brontë).
Coddle and mollycoddle point to tender, overprotective care that often leads to weakening of character: "The two or three times a week she was home, she coddled Lisette, painting her toenails and rubbing rose-scented lotion into her legs" (Erin McGraw). "His mother mollycoddled the boy, combed and curled his hair, trimmed and tidied his clothes" (Patrick MacGill).
Baby suggests the indulgence and attention one might give to an infant: "Though he was grown, she still babied him, kept his school pictures taped to her refrigerator, still bought his clothes on sale, still saved money for him" (Louise Erdrich).

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.