use-icon

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.

guide to the dictionary

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. Annual surveys have gauged 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

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

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

scroll-icon

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.

100-words-icon

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

Find out more!

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

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

cra·dle (krādl)
Share:
n.
1. A small low bed for an infant, often furnished with rockers.
2.
a. The earliest period of life: had an interest in music almost from the cradle.
b. A place of origin; a birthplace: the cradle of civilization.
3.
a. A framework of wood or metal used to support something, such as a ship undergoing construction or repair.
b. A framework used to protect an injured limb.
4. A low flat framework that rolls on casters, used by a mechanic working beneath an automobile. Also called creeper.
5. The part of a telephone that contains the connecting switch upon which the receiver and mouthpiece unit is supported.
6.
a. A frame projecting above the blade of a scythe, used to catch grain as it is cut so that it can be laid flat.
b. A scythe equipped with such a frame.
7. A boxlike device furnished with rockers, used for washing gold-bearing dirt.
tr.v. cra·dled, cra·dling, cra·dles
1.
a. To place or retain in a cradle.
b. To care for or nurture in infancy.
c. To hold or support protectively: cradled the cat in his arms.
d. Sports In hockey, to keep possession of (the puck) by moving the stick back and forth to prevent the puck from sliding away.
e. Sports In lacrosse, to keep possession of (the ball) by moving the stick back and forth to prevent the ball from falling to the ground or resting too low in the webbing for easy release.
2. To reap (grain) with a cradle.
3. To place or support (a ship, for example) in a cradle.
4. To wash (gold-bearing dirt) in a cradle.

[Middle English cradel, from Old English.]

cradler n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 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:

    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.

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.