Origin of radio

1910–15; shortening of radiotelegraph or radiotelegraphy
Related formspre·ra·di·o, adjective


a combining form with the meanings “dealing with radiant energy” (radiometer), “employing or dealing with radio waves” (radioacoustics; radiolocation; radiotelephone), “emitting rays as a result of the breakup of atomic nuclei” (radioactive; radiocarbon), “characterized by, employing or dealing with such rays” (radiography; radiopaque; radiotherapy).

Origin of radio-

< French, combining form representing Latin radius beam, ray, radius
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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Contemporary Examples of radio

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British Dictionary definitions for radio


noun plural -os

the use of electromagnetic waves, lying in the radio-frequency range, for broadcasting, two-way communications, etc
Also called (esp Brit): wireless an electronic device designed to receive, demodulate, and amplify radio signals from sound broadcasting stations, etc
a similar device permitting both transmission and reception of radio signals for two-way communications
the broadcasting, content, etc, of sound radio programmeshe thinks radio is poor these days
  1. the occupation or profession concerned with any aspect of the broadcasting of sound radio programmeshe's in radio
  2. (modifier)relating to, produced for, or transmitted by sound radioradio drama
  1. of, relating to, employed in, or sent by radio signalsa radio station
  2. of, concerned with, using, or operated by radio frequenciesradio spectrum
(modifier) (of a motor vehicle) equipped with a radio for communicationradio car

verb -os, -oing or -oed

to transmit (a message) to (a person, radio station, etc) by means of radio waves

Word Origin for radio

C20: short for radiotelegraphy


combining form

denoting radio, broadcasting, or radio frequencyradiogram
indicating radioactivity or radiationradiochemistry; radiolucent
indicating a radioactive isotope or substanceradioactinium; radiothorium; radioelement

Word Origin for radio-

from French, from Latin radius ray; see radius
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for radio

"wireless transmission of voice signals with radio waves," 1907, abstracted from earlier combinations such as radio-receiver (1903), radiophone (1881), radio-telegraphy (1898), from radio- as a comb. form of Latin radius "beam." Use for "radio receiver" is first attested 1913; sense of "sound broadcasting as a medium" is from 1913.

It is not a dream, but a probability that the radio will demolish blocs, cut the strings of red tape, actuate the voice "back home," dismantle politics and entrench the nation's executive in a position of power unlike that within the grasp of any executive in the world's history. ["The Reading Eagle," Reading, Pa., U.S.A., March 16, 1924]

Wireless remained more widespread until World War II, when military preference for radio turned the tables. As an adjective by 1912, "by radio transmission;" meaning "controlled by radio" from 1974. Radio _______ "radio station or service from _______" is recorded from 1920. A radio shack (1946) was a small building housing radio equipment.


1916, from radio (n.). Related: Radioed; radioing.


word-forming element meaning 1. "ray, ray-like" (see radius); 2. "radial, radially" (see radial (adj.)); 3. "by means of radiant energy" (see radiate (v.)); 4. "radioactive" (see radioactive); 5. "by radio" (see radio (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

radio in Medicine



Radiation; radiant energy:radiometer.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

radio in Science




The equipment used to generate, alter, transmit, and receive radio waves so that they carry information.


Relating to or involving the emission of radio waves.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.