Nanoantennas for visible and infrared radiation can strongly enhance the interaction of light with nanoscale matter by their ability to efficiently link propagating and spatially localized optical fields. This ability unlocks an enormous potential for applications ranging from nanoscale optical microscopy and spectroscopy over solar energy conversion, integrated optical nanocircuitry, opto-electronics and density-of-states engineering to ultra-sensing as well as enhancement of optical nonlinearities. Here we review the current understanding of metallic optical antennas based on the background of both well-developed radiowave antenna engineering and plasmonics. In particular, we discuss the role of plasmonic resonances on the performance of nanoantennas and address the influence of geometrical parameters imposed by nanofabrication. Finally, we give a brief account of the current status of the field and the major established and emerging lines of investigation in this vivid area of research.