See more synonyms for scanner on
  1. a person or thing that scans.
  2. optical scanner.See under optical scanning.
  3. Photography. any device for exposing an image on film, a sensitized plate, etc., by tracing light along a series of many closely spaced parallel lines.
  4. (in aerial photography) a device for estimating the ratio of aircraft speed to aircraft altitude.
  5. a photoelectric device for scanning a picture to determine automatically the density of the hue or value in each area for transmission by wire or radio or for preparation of color process printing plates.
  6. a computer-aided electronic system using photoelectric cells to separate copy, as color illustrations, into its primary colors, correct color copy, and produce a set of color separations ready for proofing or printing.
  7. Radio. a radio receiver, used especially by police, firefighters, and the press, that continuously tunes to preselected frequencies, broadcasting any signal that it detects.
  8. Medicine/Medical, Biology. a device for examining a body, organ, tissue, or other biologically active material.

Origin of scanner

First recorded in 1550–60; scan + -er1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for scanner

OCR, scanner

Examples from the Web for scanner

Contemporary Examples of scanner

Historical Examples of scanner

  • I'll get this scanner set up again, and we'll be ready to load out.

    The Players

    Everett B. Cole

  • I had my scanner on, so they could see me, but my own screen stayed dark.

    The Misplaced Battleship

    Harry Harrison (AKA Henry Maxwell Dempsey)

  • But with this scanner on, I think of where I want to look and I can see it.

    The Galaxy Primes

    Edward Elmer Smith

  • James stopped talking, pulled out his scanner, stuck his face into it.

    The Galaxy Primes

    Edward Elmer Smith

  • James pushed the button, glanced into his scanner, and froze; eyes staring.

    The Galaxy Primes

    Edward Elmer Smith

British Dictionary definitions for scanner


  1. a person or thing that scans
  2. a device, usually electronic, used to measure or sample the distribution of some quantity or condition in a particular system, region, or area
  3. an aerial or similar device designed to transmit or receive signals, esp radar signals, inside a given solid angle of space, thus allowing a particular region to be scanned
  4. any of various devices used in medical diagnosis to obtain an image of an internal organ or partSee CAT scanner, nuclear magnetic resonance scanner, ultrasound scanner
  5. informal a television outside broadcast vehicle
  6. short for optical scanner
  7. printing an electronic device which scans printed material and converts it to digital form
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 scanner

1550s, "person who examines critically," agent noun from scan (v.). From 1927 as a type of mechanical device, in mid-20c. use especially of radar and medical devices; later of computer accessories.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper