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!

hit (hĭt)
Share:
v. hit, hit·ting, hits
v.tr.
1. To come into contact with forcefully; strike: The car hit the guardrail.
2.
a. To cause to come into contact: She hit her hand against the wall.
b. To deal a blow to: He hit the punching bag.
c. To cause an implement or missile to come forcefully into contact with: hit the nail with a hammer.
3. To press or push (a key or button, for example): hit the return key by mistake.
4. Sports
a. To reach with a propelled ball or puck: hit the running back with a pass.
b. To score in this way: She hit the winning basket.
c. To perform (a shot or maneuver) successfully: couldn't hit the jump shot.
d. To propel with a stroke or blow: hit the ball onto the green.
5. Baseball
a. To execute (a base hit) successfully: hit a single.
b. To bat against (a pitcher or kind of pitch) successfully: can't hit a slider.
6.
a. To affect, especially adversely: The company was hit hard by the recession. Influenza hit the elderly the hardest.
b. To be affected by (a negative development): Their marriage hit a bad patch.
7. Informal
a. To win (a prize, for example), especially in a lottery.
b. To arise suddenly in the mind of; occur to: It finally hit him that she might be his long-lost sister.
8.
a. Informal To go to or arrive at: We hit the beach early.
b. Informal To attain or reach: Monthly sales hit a new high. She hit 40 on her last birthday.
c. To produce or represent accurately: trying to hit the right note.
9. Games To deal cards to.
10. Sports To bite on or take (bait or a lure). Used of a fish.
v.intr.
1. To strike or deal a blow.
2.
a. To come into contact with something; collide.
b. To attack: The raiders hit at dawn.
c. To happen or occur: The storm hit without warning.
3. To achieve or find something desired or sought: finally hit on the answer; hit upon a solution to the problem.
4. Baseball To bat or bat well: Their slugger hasn't been hitting lately.
5. Sports To score by shooting, especially in basketball: hit on 7 of 8 shots.
6. To ignite a mixture of air and fuel in the cylinders. Used of an internal-combustion engine.
n.
1.
a. A collision or impact.
b. A successfully executed shot, blow, thrust, or throw.
c. Sports A deliberate collision with an opponent, such as a body check in ice hockey.
2. A successful or popular venture: a Broadway hit.
3. Computers
a. A match of data in a search string against data that one is searching.
b. A connection made to a website over the internet or another network: Our company's website gets about 250,000 hits daily.
4. An apt or effective remark.
5. Abbr. H Baseball A base hit.
6. Slang
a. A dose of a narcotic drug.
b. A puff of a cigarette or a pipe.
7. Slang A murder planned and carried out usually by a member of an underworld syndicate.
Phrasal Verbs:
hit on Slang
To pay unsolicited romantic attention to: can't go into a bar lately without being hit on.
hit up Slang
To approach and ask (someone) for something, especially for money: tried to hit me up for a loan.
Idioms:
hit it big Slang
To be successful: investors who hit it big on the stock market.
hit it off Informal
To get along well together.
hit the books Informal
To study, especially with concentrated effort.
hit the bottle/booze/sauce Slang
To engage in drinking alcoholic beverages.
hit the bricks Slang
To go on strike.
hit the fan Slang
To have serious, usually adverse consequences.
hit the ground running Informal
To begin a venture with great energy, involvement, and competence.
hit the hay/sack Slang
To go to bed: hit the hay well before midnight.
hit the high points/spots
To direct attention to the most important points or places.
hit the jackpot
To become highly and unexpectedly successful, especially to win a great deal of money.
hit the nail on the head
To be absolutely right.
hit the road Slang
To set out, as on a trip; leave.
hit the roof/ceiling Slang
To express anger, especially vehemently.
hit the spot
To give total or desired satisfaction, as food or drink.
hit the wall
1. To become suddenly and extremely fatigued, especially when participating in an endurance sport, such as running.
2. To lose effectiveness suddenly or come to an end: The stock rally hit the wall when interest rates rose.

[Middle English hitten, from Old English hyttan, from Old Norse hitta.]

hitless adj.
hitta·ble adj.

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.