dead reckoning


: the determination without the aid of celestial observations of the position of a ship or aircraft from the record of the courses sailed or flown, the distance made, and the known or estimated drift
dead reckon verb

Examples of dead reckoning in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Knowing that dead reckoning doesn’t account for variables like currents or steering errors, sailors would check their position by a sextant, using the Sun, Moon, planets or stars. Amy Shira Teitel, Discover Magazine, 15 June 2019 There is also straightforward dead reckoning and inertial navigation. The Physics Arxiv Blog, Discover Magazine, 25 Mar. 2021 Born in Marblehead, Mass., Ellen Creesy learned how to pilot a vessel from her father, who also taught her the rudiments of navigation: dead reckoning and how to read a nautical chart. Gary Kamiya, San Francisco Chronicle, 4 Feb. 2022 But for longitude, navigators had to rely on dead reckoning that was subject to errors. Tim Bajarin, Forbes, 28 Apr. 2021 The researchers modeled the animals’ behavior using a variety of math ideas and the navigational concept of dead reckoning. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 19 Mar. 2021 Yoni Nova Kusumawan, had to rely on dead reckoning—using the STS-50’s trackline and rate of speed to estimate where and when to intercept it. Tristram Korten, Smithsonian Magazine, 21 Aug. 2020 But since all of these systems all used dead reckoning—which, again, compares a car’s location to that of a map—these solutions weren’t actually that much more advanced than the 1909 Jones Live-Map. Larry Printz, Ars Technica, 24 June 2020 Known as dead reckoning, the system didn't use satellites. Larry Printz, Ars Technica, 24 June 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dead reckoning.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1613, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of dead reckoning was in 1613

Dictionary Entries Near dead reckoning

Cite this Entry

“Dead reckoning.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

dead reckoning

: calculation of the position of a ship or aircraft from the distance it has covered and the direction it has traveled without taking observations of the sun, stars, or moon

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