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 First, the dial controller is a little off-putting, and only console buttons change the gears if desired. Scott Sturgis, chicagotribune.com, "2019 Ford Expedition pulls like a beast, drives like a Winnebago," 8 Nov. 2019 Users also especially like the easy dial design and the variety of finishes offered. Paige Szmodis, Popular Mechanics, "The 6 Best Smart Thermostats to Save Energy This Winter," 1 Nov. 2019 What Malzahn does really, really well is dial up confusion. Charles Hollis, al, "How do you fix Nix, turn Auburn offense into passing threat?," 1 Nov. 2019 In interviews, the two former FBI cyber experts said the two incidents taken together — Giuliani’s butt dials and reliance on Apple workers to help him reboot his phone — indicate a lax approach to mobile phone security. NBC News, "Rudy Giuliani needed Apple genius help to unlock his iPhone after named Trump cybersecurity adviser," 31 Oct. 2019 Police said anyone who sees Wickham should call 911, the Oregon State Police at 800-452-7888 or dial *OSP from a mobile device. Samantha Swindler | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Oregon State Hospital patient missing after walking away from treatment group," 14 Oct. 2019 Since cows lack tuning dials, Caporicci starts each batch of ice cream base by combining a specific ratio of lean milk and rich cream to adjust the fat content of the base. Ali Bouzari, SFChronicle.com, "The molecular science behind a Larkspur shop’s blueberry ice cream," 27 Sep. 2019 Today, Google announced a partnership with telco carrier Vodafone Idea that brings the Google Assistant to those users by way of a simple, toll-free dial-in service. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "In India, you don’t need a Google phone to have a Google Assistant," 19 Sep. 2019 To see if your device is compatible, dial *#06# and plug that number in at T-mobile.com/resources/bring-your-own-phone. 🚨 TRY our wireless network for 30 days without having to commit to it? Doreen Christensen, sun-sentinel.com, "Try T-Mobile on your phone and number for free," 29 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Despite the strike, GM remained competitive with incentives in the quarter after dialing back last quarter. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, "GM shows profit of $3 billion in third quarter despite strike," 29 Oct. 2019 Now teams like the Red Sox have to choose when to dial back and reset the penalties for exceeding the limit. BostonGlobe.com, "“I had a pretty good idea what was going on even before this year,” Cora said Saturday. “At the end of the day, we know the nature of the business and what you have to do.”," 29 Sep. 2019 These week’s matchup is more favorable, but the big concern is that the Vikings get out to an early lead and the team dials back the passing in a significant way. Kevin Hanson, SI.com, "Fantasy Football: Week 3 QB Rankings," 19 Sep. 2019 Part of that credit should go to the Titans; Colts coach Frank Reich said that Indianapolis dialed up several shot plays down the field, but Tennessee took most of them away and forced Brissett to check it down. Joel A. Erickson, Indianapolis Star, "Thumbs up, thumbs down: Colts get good and bad from Jacoby Brissett's second start," 16 Sep. 2019 Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash said the team will dial up fewer zone defenses than last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, and an injury likely will keep the team’s other cornerback, A.J. Bouye, out of the game. Garry Smits, orlandosentinel.com, "Jaguars vs. Texans: Jalen Ramsey-DeAndre Hopkins rivalry resumes," 14 Sep. 2019 JOHN McCLAIN: Texans' Romeo Crennel dials up problems for rookie QBs Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel said the strategy simply didn’t work. Aaron Wilson, Houston Chronicle, "Texans’ Romeo Crennel explains conservative late-game strategy against Saints," 12 Sep. 2019 Mike Tressel’s defense continues to dial up pressure at the right time, looking Dantonio-esque. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State football grades: Hard to complain in easy win over Western Michigan," 8 Sep. 2019 That's when the quarterback dialed up the magic once more. Christopher Bumbaca, USA TODAY, "Aaron Rodgers, Packers have dealt Bears some devastating losses. Here are QB's five biggest moments," 5 Sep. 2019

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

Statistics for dial

Last Updated

14 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for dial

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dial


How to pronounce dial (audio)

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
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dial

Spanish Central: Translation of 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).


to engage in dissolute behavior

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • rotelle pasta
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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