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Antenna vs. Transmitter: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on September 26, 2023
An antenna receives or sends electromagnetic waves, while a transmitter generates and sends them.

Key Differences

An antenna is a device designed to capture or broadcast electromagnetic waves. On the other hand, a transmitter is a device that produces and releases these electromagnetic waves.
The primary role of an antenna is to serve as an interface between electronic devices and free space, facilitating the sending or receiving of signals. Conversely, a transmitter functions by converting input information into electromagnetic waves suitable for broadcasting.
An antenna does not generate the signals it receives or transmits. Instead, it relies on a transmitter to generate the signal, which the antenna then broadcasts.
It is possible for systems to include both an antenna and a transmitter, as they often work in tandem. The transmitter produces the signal, and the antenna ensures it is appropriately broadcast or received.
Without a transmitter, an antenna would have no signals to send or receive. Similarly, without an antenna, the signals a transmitter generates would not effectively propagate through space.

Comparison Chart


Receives or sends electromagnetic waves
Generates and sends electromagnetic waves


Does not generate signals
Produces signals


Interface between electronic devices and free space
Converts input into electromagnetic waves for broadcasting

Role in Communication

Facilitates transmission or reception
Initiates transmission


Passive device
Active device

Antenna and Transmitter Definitions


A device for capturing electromagnetic waves.
The radio's antenna ensures clear signal reception.


A device that produces electromagnetic waves.
: The radio transmitter broadcasts the station's programs.


An apparatus for electromagnetic wave propagation.
The car's antenna provides seamless radio reception.


An apparatus for sending signals wirelessly.
: The transmitter sends data to the receiving end.


An interface between free space and electronic devices.
A satellite antenna captures signals from space.


A device converting input into electromagnetic waves.
: The microphone's transmitter ensures clear audio broadcast.


A metal apparatus for broadcasting signals.
The TV antenna on the roof needs adjustment.


A generator of broadcasting signals.
: A faulty transmitter can disrupt communication.


A structure facilitating wireless communication.
The smartphone's internal antenna enables WiFi connectivity.


A source of wireless communication.
: The station's transmitter operates at a specific frequency.


(Zoology) One of the paired, flexible, segmented sensory appendages on the head of an insect, myriapod, or crustacean functioning primarily as an organ of touch.


One that transmits
A transmitter of disease.


Something likened to this sensory appendage, as in function or form
Sensitive public relations antennae.


An electronic device that generates and amplifies a carrier wave, modulates it with a meaningful signal derived from speech or other sources, and radiates the resulting signal from an antenna.


A structure in a photosynthetic organism containing pigment molecules that absorb light energy and transfer it to a reaction center composed of proteins and pigments, where the light energy is converted into chemical energy.


The portion of a telephone that converts the incident sounds into electrical impulses that are conveyed to a remote receiver.


Pl. an·ten·nas A metallic apparatus for sending or receiving electromagnetic waves such as radio waves.


A telegraphic sending instrument.


A feeler organ on the head of an insect, crab, or other animal. 17


A neurotransmitter.


An apparatus to receive or transmit electromagnetic waves and convert respectively to or from an electrical signal.


One who or that which transmits something (in all senses).


(figurative) The faculty of intuitive astuteness.


An electronic device that generates and amplifies a carrier wave, modulates it with a meaningful signal derived from speech, music, TV or other sources, and broadcasts the resulting signal from an antenna.


(biochemistry) A fragment of an oligosaccharide


One who, or that which, transmits; specifically, that portion of a telegraphic or telephonic instrument by means of which a message is sent; - opposed to receiver.


(nautical) The spar to which a lateen sail is attached, which is then hoisted up the mast.


Someone who transmits a message;
Return to sender


A movable, articulated organ of sensation, attached to the heads of insects and Crustacea. There are two in the former, and usually four in the latter. They are used as organs of touch, and in some species of Crustacea the cavity of the ear is situated near the basal joint. In insects, they are popularly called horns, and also feelers. The term in also applied to similar organs on the heads of other arthropods and of annelids.


Any agent (person or animal or microorganism) that carries and transmits a disease;
Mosquitos are vectors of malaria and yellow fever
Fleas are vectors of the plague
Aphids are transmitters of plant diseases
When medical scientists talk about vectors they are usually talking about insects


A metallic device, variously shaped, designed for the purpose of either transmitting or receiving radio waves, as for radio or television broadcasting, or for transmitting communication signals. Some types are: whip antenna, antenna tower, horn antenna, dish antenna, directional antenna and rabbit ears. See transmitter, receiver.


Set used to broadcast radio or tv signals


An electrical device that sends or receives radio or television signals


Sensitivity similar to that of a receptor organ;
He had a special antenna for public relations


One of a pair of mobile appendages on the head of e.g. insects and crustaceans; typically sensitive to touch and taste


Why is a transmitter essential in broadcasting stations?

A transmitter is essential as it produces the electromagnetic waves that get broadcasted.

What is the primary function of an antenna?

An antenna's primary function is to receive or send electromagnetic waves.

How does a transmitter differ from a receiver?

A transmitter generates and sends signals, while a receiver captures and processes them.

Can an antenna work without a transmitter?

An antenna can receive signals without a transmitter but needs a transmitter to send signals.

Can a single device act as both antenna and transmitter?

A single device can incorporate both an antenna and a transmitter, but they serve distinct functions.

Does every wireless device have an antenna?

Yes, every wireless device has some form of an antenna to send or receive signals.

How do antennas vary in design?

Antennas can vary in size, shape, and configuration based on their intended frequency and application.

Why is the placement of a transmitter crucial?

Correct placement of a transmitter ensures optimal signal strength and minimal interference.

Can a transmitter work without power?

No, a transmitter requires power to generate and send electromagnetic waves.

Is a transmitter always needed for communication?

A transmitter is needed for initiating or sending communication, but not necessarily for receiving.

Are all antennas made of metal?

While many antennas are metallic, materials vary based on the antenna's purpose and frequency range.

How do antennas aid in wireless communication?

Antennas capture or send electromagnetic waves, facilitating wireless communication.

Do both transmitter and antenna determine signal strength?

Yes, both the transmitter's power and the antenna's efficiency can influence signal strength.

Is the shape of an antenna significant?

Yes, an antenna's shape can influence its efficiency, directionality, and frequency range.

What happens if a transmitter malfunctions?

If a transmitter malfunctions, it may disrupt communication by sending weak or no signals.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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