hour·​glass | \ ˈau̇(-ə)r-ˌglas \

Definition of hourglass

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an instrument for measuring time consisting of a glass vessel having two compartments from the upper of which a quantity of usually sand runs in an hour into the lower one



Definition of hourglass (Entry 2 of 2)

: shaped like an hourglass an hourglass figure

Illustration of hourglass

Illustration of hourglass


In the meaning defined above

Examples of hourglass in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The fiery red jacket-and-trouser combo had an elongating effect, while a matching skinny belt, tightly cinched a la 1980s divas, enhanced the hourglass shape. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "Olé! Olé! Kendall Jenner Elevates Toreador Style in Paris," 23 July 2018 Past awareness campaigns even included an upside-down baby bottle as a rapidly dwindling hourglass. Macaela Mackenzie, Glamour, "Do You Need a Fertility Test—Even If You’re Not Trying to Get Pregnant?," 13 Dec. 2018 That polarity informs the theme of limited time, which Ito emphasizes in his work, using recurring candles and hourglasses. Sonaiya Kelley, latimes.com, "When artist Greg Ito collaborates with 'Top Chef's' Richard Blais, you get ArtxFood," 30 May 2018 Unlike years ago when that baby-bottle-as-hourglass campaign got major backlash, women today know more than ever about our bodies. Macaela Mackenzie, Glamour, "Do You Need a Fertility Test—Even If You’re Not Trying to Get Pregnant?," 13 Dec. 2018 Adding lean muscle to my frame was absolutely essential to changing the shape of my body from pear to hourglass, and the muscle really helps speed up my metabolism. Abigail L. Cuffey, Woman's Day, "Real Weight-Loss Stories: I Kept the Pounds Off," 4 Oct. 2010 And like sand through the hourglass...we're likely to find out more information in due time! Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "Kelly Clarkson’s New Talk Show Might Mean ‘Days of Our Lives’ Gets Canceled," 20 Sep. 2018 Teddy doesn't exactly have an hourglass figure these days. Maggie Gordon, Houston Chronicle, "More than half of American dogs are overweight. Including mine, apparently.," 9 July 2018 Most sizing charts for women assume an hourglass figure, and many women are not that shape. Alyssa Hardy, Teen Vogue, "H&M Is Making Their Clothing Sizes Larger," 8 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

And yet, her body, designed by a man, had a waist equivalent to 18 inches on a real woman; an impossibly thin figure made even more so by her zaftig 39-inch bust and 33-inch hourglass hip measurement. Kate Branch, Vogue, "How America’s Favorite Doll Created a Beauty Complex," 27 Apr. 2018 Her bright blouse and pants clung to her thick, hourglass figure. Aya De Leon, The Root, "The Takedown," 22 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hourglass.' 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 hourglass


circa 1515, in the meaning defined above


circa 1834, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for hourglass

Last Updated

2 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hourglass

The first known use of hourglass was circa 1515

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More Definitions for hourglass



English Language Learners Definition of hourglass

: a device for measuring time


hour·​glass | \ ˈau̇r-ˌglas \

Kids Definition of hourglass

: a device for measuring time in which sand takes an hour to run from the upper into the lower part of a glass container

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More from Merriam-Webster on hourglass

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hourglass

Spanish Central: Translation of hourglass

Nglish: Translation of hourglass for Spanish Speakers

Comments on hourglass

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


to deny responsibility for

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