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)

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Synonyms for dial

Synonyms: Verb

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Where Wrangler offers a second stick shifter that has to be muscled to operate its HIGH/LOW gear transfer case, Bronco simplifies with a rotary dial. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 10 July 2021 The new Patek Philippe Nautilus with an olive green-dial may just be the hottest watch release of 2021. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 7 July 2021 The air supply is also super easy to adjust, with an intuitive one-touch dial to change airflow instantly. Tim Kohut, BGR, 23 June 2021 The watch in the sale was the very first Opus, partnered with none other than F.P. Journe, a tourbillon with a brilliant turquoise dial, a unique piece. Carol Besler, Forbes, 11 May 2021 The stick itself rotates, a nod to the old-school paddle controllers with a dial. Brett Molina, USA TODAY, 30 Apr. 2021 Only 150 models will be made with the solid pink-gold dial in a white gold case. Jill Newman, Town & Country, 26 Apr. 2021 Personal computers were common, but most people used dial-up connections to read their AOL email. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 29 June 2021 But when America was still running on dial-up, O’Donnell seized on a prescient spark. Ashley Spencer, Vulture, 28 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb That ability to precisely dial in the engine allows the driver to approach and ride the limit without fear of overburdening the chassis or the handling. Tony Quiroga, Car and Driver, 6 July 2021 In the current setting, officials who are more worried about prices getting out of hand may feel more urgency to dial back their economic stimulus, which stokes demand. New York Times, 30 June 2021 The Delta Plus variant has a similar alternative name as well: the B.1.617.2.1 variant, which looks like someone managed to dial one more digit. Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes, 27 June 2021 Jio has had to significantly dial back its sales targets for the smartphone because of shortages and rising prices, according to a recent report from Bloomberg. Rishi Iyengar, CNN, 23 June 2021 On-the-call blunders aside, many video conferences also require a bit of work to dial into. Fan Bi, Rolling Stone, 25 May 2021 The fear is that the Federal Reserve will have to dial back its extensive support if inflation persists. Arkansas Online, 20 May 2021 The fear is that the Federal Reserve will have to dial back its extensive support if inflation persists. Damian J. Troise And Alex Veiga, USA TODAY, 19 May 2021 The street wellness response teams would represent the latest in the city’s efforts to dial back police presence from calls for service that don’t involve criminal activity — particularly those involving mental health and homelessness. Megan Cassidy, San Francisco Chronicle, 10 May 2021

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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Time Traveler for dial

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for dial

Last Updated

13 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dial.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dial. Accessed 24 Jul. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on dial

Nglish: Translation of dial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dial for Arabic Speakers


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