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!

ca·su·al (kăzh-əl)
Share:
adj.
1.
a. Being without ceremony or formality; relaxed or informal: a casual evening with friends.
b. Unpremeditated or offhand: a casual remark.
c. Suited for everyday wear or informal use: casual clothing.
2. Not serious or thorough; superficial: a casual inspection; a casual understanding of French.
3. Showing little interest or concern; nonchalant: "speaks with casual aplomb about being shot at" (Janelle Brown).
4. Occurring or being such by chance: "in the first months when I was pregnant, before it was obvious to the casual observer" (Anne Roiphe). See Synonyms at chance.
5.
a. Occurring at irregular or infrequent intervals; occasional: casual employment at a factory; a casual correspondence with a former teacher.
b. Employed on an irregular basis: casual workers.
6.
a. Socialized with only occasionally; not close or intimate: a casual acquaintance.
b. Being or occurring between sexual partners who are not in an established relationship: casual lovers; casual sex.
n.
1. One that serves or appears at irregular intervals, especially a temporary worker.
2. casuals Casualwear: sent my casuals to the cleaners.
3. A soldier temporarily attached to a unit while awaiting permanent assignment.

[Middle English casuel, due to chance, unpredictable, from Old French, from Latin cāsuālis, from cāsus, event; see CASE1.]

casu·al·ly adv.
casu·al·ness n.

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.