Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

sextant

play
noun sex·tant \ˈseks-tənt\

Simple Definition of sextant

  • : an instrument used to determine the position of a ship or airplane by measuring the positions of the stars and sun

Full Definition of sextant

  1. :  an instrument for measuring angular distances used especially in navigation to observe altitudes of celestial bodies (as in ascertaining latitude and longitude)

Illustration of sextant

Origin of sextant

New Latin sextant-, sextans sixth part of a circle, from Latin, sixth part, from sextus sixth


First Known Use: 1628

Other Nautical Terms

Rhymes with sextant


Learn More about sextant


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up sextant? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

February 9, 2016

marked by high spirits and laughter

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

kittly-benders duvet spindrift pince-nez
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ