1 of 2


hour·​glass ˈau̇(-ə)r-ˌglas How to pronounce hourglass (audio)
: 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

Illustration of hourglass

Illustration of hourglass


2 of 2


: shaped like an hourglass
an hourglass figure

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
With just 21 games left to play, the granular opportunities are slipping through the hourglass and the Warriors are in danger of running out of time. Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle, 26 Feb. 2023 But as the Colts enter a critical inflection point in franchise history, the hourglass is not what scares them. Nate Atkins, The Indianapolis Star, 3 Feb. 2023 To keep the streak going (and to make the daunting hourglass disappear), send a snap to this person ASAP. Samantha Olson, Seventeen, 27 Jan. 2023 With plenty of sparkles and an hourglass silhouette, the gown was a showstopper. Jessica Booth, Peoplemag, 25 Jan. 2023 Though, if the larger-sized hourglass is not your cup of tea, there is also medium-sized and ellipse-sized candle available. Sarah Wolf Halverson, Better Homes & Gardens, 17 Nov. 2022 Thankfully, after the hourglass proved unpopular with both fans and players, producers ditched it for the current season, settling on the far more intriguing first half of the change, with players still battling to receive their fancy new buff. Dalton Ross, EW.com, 2 Nov. 2022 Some loyal fans are feeling burned: Like sands through the hourglass, the soap moved to Peacock recently after 57 years on NBC. Los Angeles Times Staff, Los Angeles Times, 23 Sep. 2022 As usual, Fox wore the pieces with swagger, adding on one of 2022’s must-have accessories, Balenciaga’s miniature hourglass bag in a glossy black stamped croc material that paired perfectly with all that shiny leather. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, 17 Jan. 2022
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, 27 Apr. 2018 Her bright blouse and pants clung to her thick, hourglass figure. Aya De Leon, The Root, 22 Apr. 2018 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use


circa 1515, in the meaning defined above


circa 1834, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of hourglass was circa 1515

Dictionary Entries Near hourglass

Cite this Entry

“Hourglass.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hourglass. Accessed 24 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


: an instrument for measuring time in which usually sand runs from the upper part to the lower part of a glass container in an hour
hourglass adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on hourglass

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

A Good Old-Fashioned Quiz

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?