n. pl. an·ten·nae(-tĕnē)
a. Zoology One of the paired, flexible, segmented sensory appendages on the head of an insect, myriapod, or crustacean functioning primarily as an organ of touch.
b. Something likened to this sensory appendage, as in function or form: sensitive public relations antennae.
2. A structure in a photosynthetic organism containing pigment molecules that absorb light energy and transfer it to a reaction center composed of proteins and pigments, where the light energy is converted into chemical energy.
3. pl. an·ten·nas A metallic apparatus for sending or receiving electromagnetic waves such as radio waves.
[Medieval Latin (used in medieval scientific works to translate Greek keraia, horn, yardarm, insect antenna), from Latin antenna, yard (of a sail), variant of antemna; see ant- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots. Sense 3, from Italian antenna, yard (of a sail), pole, radio antenna (in the last sense, introduced by Guglielmo Marconi in 1895, in reference to the pole to which an aerial wire was attached in his early radio apparatus), from Old Italian, yard, pole, from Latin antenna, yard.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
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:
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.