[ skan ]
See synonyms for scan on
verb (used with object),scanned, scan·ning.
  1. to glance at or over or read hastily: to scan a page.

  2. to examine the particulars or points of minutely; scrutinize.

  1. to peer out at or observe repeatedly or sweepingly, as a large expanse; survey.

  2. to analyze (verse) as to its prosodic or metrical structure; read or recite (verse) so as to indicate or test the metrical form.

  3. to read (data) for use by a computer or computerized device, especially using an optical scanner.

  4. Television. to traverse (a surface) with a beam of light or electrons in order to reproduce or transmit a picture.

  5. Radar. to traverse (a region) with a beam from a radar transmitter.

  6. Medicine/Medical, Biology. to examine (a body, organ, tissue, or other biologically active material) with a scanner.

verb (used without object),scanned, scan·ning.
  1. to examine the meter of verse.

  2. (of verse) to conform to the rules of meter.

  1. Television. to scan a surface or the like.

  1. an act or instance of scanning; close examination.

  2. a visual examination by means of a television camera, as for the purpose of making visible or relaying pictures from a remote place: a satellite scan of the dark side of the moon; video scans of property listings available to customers.

  1. a particular image or frame in such video observation or a photograph made from it.

  2. Medicine/Medical, Biology.

    • examination of the body or an organ or part, or a biologically active material, by means of a technique such as computed axial tomography, nuclear magnetic resonance, ultrasonography, or scintigraphy.

    • the image or display so obtained.

Origin of scan

1350–1400; Middle English scannen, variant of *scanden<Late Latin scandere to scan verse, Latin: to climb (see ascend)

Other words for scan

Other words from scan

  • scan·na·ble, adjective
  • self-scanned, adjective
  • un·scan·na·ble, adjective
  • un·scanned, adjective

Words that may be confused with scan

Other definitions for Scan. (2 of 2)


  1. Scandinavia. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use scan in a sentence

  • I could hardly believe the verses would scan by daylight, but I can't find a mistake.

    The Daisy Chain | Charlotte Yonge
  • scan the line by reading—Glorius virgn', of all-e flur-es flur.

  • In his capacity of Indian agent Walter Lowell often had occasion to scan the business deals of his more progressive wards.

    Mystery Ranch | Arthur Chapman
  • Who has not devoured the classical dictionary before he has learned to scan the lines of Homer or of Virgil?

  • Still the host pressed on, though, far back as eye might scan, the carcasses and the crows marked out the line of marching.

    God Wills It! | William Stearns Davis

British Dictionary definitions for scan


/ (skæn) /

verbscans, scanning or scanned
  1. (tr) to scrutinize minutely

  2. (tr) to glance over quickly

  1. (tr) prosody to read or analyse (verse) according to the rules of metre and versification

  2. (intr) prosody to conform to the rules of metre and versification

  3. (tr) electronics to move a beam of light, electrons, etc, in a predetermined pattern over (a surface or region) to obtain information, esp either to sense and transmit or to reproduce a television image

  4. (tr) to examine data stored on (magnetic tape, etc), usually in order to retrieve information

  5. to examine or search (a prescribed region) by systematically varying the direction of a radar or sonar beam

  6. physics to examine or produce or be examined or produced by a continuous charge of some variable: to scan a spectrum

  7. med to obtain an image of (a part of the body) by means of a scanner

  1. the act or an instance of scanning

  2. med

    • the examination of a part of the body by means of a scanner: a brain scan; ultrasound scan

    • the image produced by a scanner

Origin of scan

C14: from Late Latin scandere to scan (verse), from Latin: to climb

Derived forms of scan

  • scannable, adjective

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