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!

spark 1 (spärk)
Share:
n.
1. An incandescent particle, especially:
a. One thrown off from a burning substance.
b. One resulting from friction.
c. One remaining in an otherwise extinguished fire; an ember.
2. A glistening particle, as of metal.
3.
a. A flash of light, especially a flash produced by electric discharge.
b. A short pulse or flow of electric current.
4. A trace or suggestion, as:
a. A quality or feeling with latent potential; a seed or germ: the spark of genius.
b. A vital, animating, or activating factor: the spark of revolution.
5. sparks (used with a sing. verb) Informal A radio operator aboard a ship.
6. Electricity
a. The luminous phenomenon resulting from a disruptive discharge through an insulating material.
b. The discharge itself.
v. sparked, spark·ing, sparks
v.intr.
1. To give off sparks.
2. To operate correctly. Used of the ignition system of an internal-combustion engine.
v.tr.
1. To set in motion; activate: The incident sparked a controversy.
2. To rouse to action; spur: A cheering crowd sparked the runner to triumph.

[Middle English sparke, from Old English spearca. V., from Middle English sparken, from Old English spearcian.]

sparker n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
spark 2 (spärk) Archaic
Share:
n.
1. An elegantly dressed, highly self-conscious young man.
2. A male suitor; a beau.
v. sparked, spark·ing, sparks
v.tr.
To court or woo.
v.intr.
To court a woman or women.

[Perhaps of Scandinavian origin or from SPARK1.]

sparker n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
Spark (spärk), Dame Muriel Sarah 1918-2006.
Share:
Scottish writer known for her satirical novels, including Memento Mori (1958) and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961).

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.