di·​al | \ ˈdī(-ə)l \

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)

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Other Words from dial


dialer noun

Synonyms for dial

Synonyms: Verb

call, phone, ring (up) [chiefly British], telephone

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Examples of dial in a Sentence


the dial of a pressure gauge I had to keep adjusting the radio dial to make the station come in clearly.


I'm sorry. I must have dialed the wrong number. dialed 911 and asked for the police
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

This ultrasonic cool mist humidifier has an easy-to-control dial knob to control the output. Rachel Rothman, Good Housekeeping, "The Best Humidifiers to Buy This Winter," 20 Dec. 2018 But Oris has matched a sleek bronze case with a sea-green dial. Michael Clerizo, WSJ, "The Best Watches of 2018," 18 Dec. 2018 The Surface Headphones include two free-spinning dials. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Hands-on with Microsoft's Surface Headphones: tune out the outside world to focus," 3 Oct. 2018 Volvo offers drivers a graphically beautiful gauge pod, with dials that have a touch of feathering and a nice typeface. Scott Sturgis, Philly.com, "Driving the 2018 Volvo XC60," 5 July 2018 There were 206,000 accidental 911 dials and another 69,000 that should have gone to the city’s nonemergency 311 service. Dominic Fracassa, San Francisco Chronicle, "SF 911 call center to get added $8 million to hire dispatchers," 30 May 2018 On the dial, the tourbillon—a device that improves accuracy—rotates at the 12 o’clock spot in a circle. Michael Clerizo, WSJ, "The Best Watches of 2018," 18 Dec. 2018 The thing that keeps me coming back is the dial that controls it all. Brent Rose, The Verge, "How to build a camera kit for adventure photography," 20 Nov. 2018 Patek Philippe was the first to make an automatic version (based on a ladies pendant watch movement, no less), and its reference 5327G with the blue dial and Breguet numerals is a versatile beauty that reflects Patek’s nearly 200-year heritage. Cara Barrett, Town & Country, "The Newest Trend in Serious Watch Collecting? Women," 21 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Lopez was outpitched by lefty Danny Duffy in a 5-0 loss to the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field but seemed sharp and thoroughly dialed in. chicagotribune.com, "From the hospital to the mound, new father Reynaldo Lopez stays in control," 14 July 2018 In recent weeks, however, those aspects of border life feel like they’ve been dialed to 11. Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, "In border town, World Cup watchers balance team pride, anxiety about US," 29 June 2018 After all, when Smith was decided in 1979, few could have imagined a society in which a phone goes wherever its owner goes, conveying to the wireless carrier not just dialed digits, but a detailed and comprehensive record of the person’s movements. Adam Liptak, New York Times, "In Ruling on Cellphone Location Data, Supreme Court Makes Statement on Digital Privacy," 22 June 2018 Tannehill was dialed in throughout OTAs and the first week of training camp. Adam H. Beasley, miamiherald, "Dolphins determined to run no-huddle — and say they 'absolutely' have QB to do it," 12 May 2018 Carlos Carrasco was good the first couple innings, got dialed in by the third and in total control the rest of the way as the Brewers completed their brief five-game homestand with a 6-2 matinee defeat at Miller Park. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Cleveland's Carlos Carrasco too much for Brewers to handle," 9 May 2018 Ryan Shaw, in the central role of Judas, comes through on the vocals, though the drama of his conflict is dialed down—especially in comparison to the NBC version. Deanna Isaacs, Chicago Reader, "Lyric’s Jesus Christ is, indeed, a superstar," 1 May 2018 Luck is reportedly dialing in with throwing experts Tom House and Adam Dedeaux at the 3DQB training facility in Huntington Beach, Calif. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "Matt Hasselbeck on Andrew Luck's rehab regimen and road to recovery," 29 Mar. 2018 Friday’s town hall was attended by more than 600 employees, with many more dialed in from offices around the world, the person said. Deepa Seetharaman, WSJ, "Facebook’s Zuckerberg Tells Employees to Respect Diverse Views of Colleagues," 5 Oct. 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for dial

Last Updated

10 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dial

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

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More Definitions for dial



English Language Learners Definition of dial

: 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 \

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on dial

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dial

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dial

Spanish Central: Translation of dial

Nglish: Translation of dial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dial for Arabic Speakers

Comments on dial

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tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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