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 With their physiology on such a sliding scale, workers that lose the tournament can simply turn the dial backward, and resume business as usual. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, "Want to Be Ant Royalty? Prepare to Lose Part of Your Brain.," 13 Apr. 2021 The font for the typography on the dial is all new. Roberta Naas, Forbes, "Hermès Launches H08 Men’s Pillar Collection Of Sport Watches At Watches & Wonders 2021: CEO Laurent Dordet Explains," 7 Apr. 2021 Daisy pushed another quarter into the slot and yanked on the dial. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "'The Dating Plan' Is Our April Book Club Pick," 29 Mar. 2021 This model has high, low and fan-only heat settings, along with an adjustable thermostat that has 11 options on a dial. Ambar Pardilla, NBC News, "February reader favorites: Face masks, vacuums and more," 3 Mar. 2021 The two double tourbillons, positioned at 11 o’clock and roughly 5:30 on the dial, each consist of an outer cage inclined at 30 degrees that rotates once every minute. Carol Besler, Robb Report, "Greubel Forsey’s Signature Quadruple Tourbillon Timepiece Gets an Ultra-Rare Update," 1 Mar. 2021 So, you’d speed-dial Dr. Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, Stéphane Bancel, the CEO of Moderna, and Alex Gorsky, the CEO of Johnson & Johnson, for an impromptu tête-à-tête. Clifton Leaf, Fortune, "Want to know about the future of the pandemic? Join us at Brainstorm Health 2021," 12 Apr. 2021 The dial also includes a leap year indicator at 4 o’clock and a day/night indicator at 8 o’clock. Carol Besler, Forbes, "Patek Philippe Reinvents Its Signature Complication: Meet The New “In-Line” Perpetual Calendar Ref. 5236P-001," 12 Apr. 2021 The dial side also offers a peek at the open-worked barrel at 10 o’clock and the coiled mainspring, providing 72 hours of power reserve. Paige Reddinger, Robb Report, "Black Panther Stars in a New Watch Collab Between Marvel and Audemars Piguet," 10 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The males can even dial up the contrast of these color patches by making their surrounding feathers ultra-black with a structure that basically eats light. Matt Simon, Wired, "How One Naughty Bird Cheats With Fancy Feather Structures," 30 Apr. 2021 Plans for a dial-up service would continue until January 1995, when the thinking turned to an internet service. WSJ, "WSJ.com Turns 25," 29 Apr. 2021 To call in, simply dial 1-833-UNBASIC (1-833-862-2742) between now until Saturday, April 24. Andrea Romano, Travel + Leisure, "How You Could Win a Year's Supply of Hard Seltzer and a Chance to Talk to Lance Bass," 15 Apr. 2021 By that time, there were too many people on the call — 253 — so Shah couldn’t dial in to her own arraignment. Victoria Bekiempis, Vulture, "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’s Jennifer Shah Arrested for Fraud," 2 Apr. 2021 Members of Congress have introduced bills to update children's online privacy protections--first conceived in the dial-up era--and address concerning design practices that keep our kids hooked on their devices and make our jobs as parents harder. Dr. Jenny Radesky, CNN, "Screen time and kids: What have we learned in the last year?," 22 Mar. 2021 Anyone who spots Chavez or Peak should dial 911, the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office at 256-734-0343 , the Blount County Sheriff’s Office at 205-625-4912 or 205-625-4913 or send a message to the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page. Howard Koplowitz | Hkoplowitz@al.com, al, "Leo Chavez, man who murdered parents, among 2 Cullman County inmates on the loose; reward offered," 19 Mar. 2021 And callers can still dial just three digits to reach 711 relay services or 911 emergency services. Randy Tucker, The Enquirer, "Local calls will require dialing area code plus phone number beginning in October," 27 Feb. 2021 To put it in perspective, let’s dial the clock back to the Six-Day War of 1967. Mario Loyola, National Review, "Trump’s Middle East Triumph," 13 Aug. 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.

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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

2 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dial.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dial. Accessed 9 May. 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

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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

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