scan - definition and synonyms


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present tense
present participlescanning
past tensescanned
past participlescanned
  1. 1
    [transitive] to look at something very carefully, because you hope or expect to see a particular person or thing

    He scanned her face but there were no signs of emotion.

    scan something for someone/something:

    Ella scanned the crowd for any sign of Geoff.

    anxiously/eagerly scan something:

    The pilot was anxiously scanning the sky for other air traffic.

    1. a.



      scan through

      [intransitive/transitive] to read something very quickly, in order to get a general idea of its meaning or to find particular information

      Merrill opened the letter, scanned it briefly, and threw it away.

      Tony scanned through the television programmes in the local newspaper.

      scan something for something:

      She scanned the paper for any news of them.

    2. b.
      [intransitive/transitive] if a machine or computer program scans something, it examines it in order to look for a particular thing

      A program is supplied which scans for viruses and removes them.

      Every fifty metres there was a camera scanning the road.

  2. 2
    [intransitive/transitive] to use a piece of equipment to read and store information in digital form

    You can use photographs and then scan them onto your computer.

    His job was to scan barcodes in the store.

    scan in something (=scan something and store it in your computer):

    You can scan in a photograph of your home.

    scan something into something:

    Documents are scanned into a computer and then converted to electronic form.

    1. a.
      if a piece of equipment scans a document, photograph etc, it changes it into a form that can be stored in a computer

      A printer that can fax, scan, and copy saves space.

  3. 3
    [transitive] to use a piece of equipment to produce a picture of the inside of a part of your body

    In one test, the subjectsbrains were scanned while they read to themselves.

  4. 4
    [intransitive] literature if poetry scans, it has a regular rhythm (=pattern of beats)

    These are poems that neither rhyme nor scan.