di·​al | \ ˈdī(-ə)l How to pronounce dial (audio) \

Definition of dial

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : the face of a sundial
2 obsolete : timepiece
3 : the graduated face of a timepiece
4a : a face upon which some measurement is registered usually by means of graduations and a pointer the thermometer dial reads 70°F
b : a device that may be operated to make electrical connections or to regulate the operation of a machine a radio dial a telephone dial


dialed or dialled; dialing or dialling

Definition of dial (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to measure with a dial
2a : to manipulate a device (such as a dial) so as to operate, regulate, or select dial your favorite program dialed the wrong number
b : call sense 1m(1) dialed the office

intransitive verb

1 : to manipulate a dial
2 : to make a telephone call or connection

Definition of dial (Entry 3 of 3)

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for dial

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of dial in a Sentence

Noun the dial of a pressure gauge I had to keep adjusting the radio dial to make the station come in clearly. Verb I'm sorry. I must have dialed the wrong number. dialed 911 and asked for the police
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Pink sapphires, deep green tsavorites, radiant peridots and brilliant diamonds define the case and crown, while hematite takes the spotlight on the dial plate alongside rubies and pink opals. Harper's BAZAAR, "Richard Mille's New Watch Collection Is a Celebration of Female Empowerment," 9 Dec. 2020 Creating new dial colors and changing design elements takes time and money and slows down production. Kristen Shirley, Bloomberg.com, "Chopard and Wempe Offer a Truly Limited Co-Branded Watch," 17 Nov. 2020 There are ways to report spam texts, such as copying the message and forwarding it via text to 7726, the telephone dial pad code for S-P-A-M. NBC News, "Sick of getting texts from the Biden or Trump campaigns? You're not alone," 29 Oct. 2020 Radium dial painting started gaining traction around 1917 in the United States, to provide watches that soldiers heading off to the trenches of Europe could read in the dark. Anne Cohen, refinery29.com, "Joey King Stars In October’s Most Haunting Movie Yet — & It All Really Happened," 26 Oct. 2020 And its 41mm bronze case, green dial, and brown calf-leather strap complement a piece that's begging to slide under the cuff of a shearling bomber jacket. Daniel Bentley, Fortune, "3 bronze watches that deserve first place in your collection," 7 Feb. 2021 Maybe even call on a rotary dial phone, or a Nokia shaped like a brick, to stick with ’90s vibe. Jason Gay, WSJ, "The Buffalo Bills Have Won the AFC East. This Isn’t a Misprint.," 20 Dec. 2020 At all levels on the dial, childcare centers remain open. CBS News, "Watch Live: Denver Mayor Michael Hancock speaks about COVID-19 restrictions going into effect today," 20 Nov. 2020 Iowa: Watching the Hawkeyes is like turning on your VCR player, listening to your Sony Walkman and making a call on your rotary dial phone. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Michigan loss to Michigan State is worst and most surprising of Jim Harbaugh era," 1 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Companies may dial down attendance and sponsorship at conventions that are less important to them, but the trade shows with significant numbers of clients will still be valuable. Bill Conerly, Forbes, "Trade Shows Will Regain Importance After The Covid Pandemic," 1 Mar. 2021 Callers must continue to dial the number 1, plus the area code and telephone number, for long distance calls. Randy Tucker, The Enquirer, "Local calls will require dialing area code plus phone number beginning in October," 27 Feb. 2021 Today, artists dial in from backstage, their bed, even the beach. Sarah Bahr, New York Times, "What Goes Into ‘Diary of a Song’," 26 Feb. 2021 Mobile users can dial 833-568-7683 to receive a link to report an incident. Washington Post, "Prince William County crime report," 24 Feb. 2021 Any resident who notices someone suspicious should dial 911 immediately. Zach Murdock, courant.com, "Police searching for 2 armed suspects after shooting in Derby, crash on Route 8 in Seymour," 28 Dec. 2020 Che-Quiab, according to police, did not dial 911 when Krzystek started turning blue at the party and went to sleep. Andrew Mark Miller, Washington Examiner, "Illegal immigrant who benefited from DACA charged with murder of 16-year-old girl and rape of 14-year-old girl at house party," 10 Dec. 2020 Walz and health officials urged Minnesotans to dial back this year's Thanksgiving festivities. Janet Mooreand Zoë Jackson, Star Tribune, "Travelers continue to fly at MSP Airport despite warnings," 25 Nov. 2020 Back in Geneva, the American ambassador, Andrew Bremberg, urged Dr. Tedros to dial back praise of China. New York Times, "In Hunt for Virus Source, W.H.O. Let China Take Charge," 4 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dial.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of dial


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1653, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for dial


Middle English dyal, from Medieval Latin dialis clock wheel revolving daily, from Latin dies day — more at deity

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dial

Time Traveler for dial

Time Traveler

The first known use of dial was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for dial

Last Updated

3 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dial.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dial. Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dial



English Language Learners Definition of dial

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the part of a clock or watch that has the numbers on it
: the part of a piece of equipment that shows the measurement of something with a moving piece (such as a needle) that points to a number
: a round control on a radio or television that you use to select a station or channel or to make the volume louder or quieter



English Language Learners Definition of dial (Entry 2 of 2)

: to select (a series of numbers) on a telephone by turning a dial or pushing buttons
: to make a telephone call to (a person, business, etc.)


di·​al | \ ˈdī-əl How to pronounce dial (audio) \

Kids Definition of dial

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the face of a watch or clock
2 : sundial
3 : a usually flat round part of a piece of equipment with numbers or marks to show some measurement usually by means of a pointer the dial of a pressure gauge
4 : a part of a machine or device (as a radio) that may be turned to operate or adjust it


dialed or dialled; dialing or dialling

Kids Definition of dial (Entry 2 of 2)

: to use a knob, button, or other control to operate or select

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on dial

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dial

Nglish: Translation of dial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dial for Arabic Speakers

Comments on dial

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!