1. A structure serving as an enclosure, a barrier, or a boundary, usually made of posts or stakes joined together by boards, wire, or rails.
2. An adjustable guide with a flat edge used on a table saw and positioned parallel to the plane of the cutting attachment in order to keep the board properly positioned for the cut to be made at the correct distance from the board's edge.
a. One who receives and sells stolen goods.
b. A place where stolen goods are received and sold.
4. Archaic A means of defense; a protection.
v. fenced, fenc·ing, fenc·es
1. To surround or enclose with a fence or other barrier. See Synonyms at enclose.
2. To separate or keep out by means of a fence or other barrier: fenced off one field from another; fenced out the deer from the garden.
3. To sell (stolen goods) to a fence.
a. To ward off; keep away.
b. To defend.
1. To practice the art or sport of fencing.
2. To avoid giving direct answers; hedge.
3. To act as a conduit for stolen goods.
on the fence Informal
Undecided as to which of two sides to support; uncommitted or neutral.
[Middle English fens, short for defens, defense; see DEFENSE.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 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:
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.