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

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

But Alabama officials haven’t flipped over their hourglasses just yet. Howard Koplowitz | Hkoplowitz@al.com, al, "What are your concerns about a possible economic recession?," 15 Aug. 2019 But, like sand through an hourglass, his time as Giants manager is slowly slipping away. Gary Peterson, The Mercury News, "Will Clark, asked about Giants managerial job: ‘It’s not off the radar’," 6 Aug. 2019 The head-turning look was also criticized by some who accused Kardashian West of getting her ribs surgically removed in order to achieve such a distinct hourglass shape. Maria Pasquini, PEOPLE.com, "Kim Kardashian Laughs Off Joke About Removing Ribs as She Credits Tiny Waist to Vegan Diet," 13 July 2019 True progress, like sand trickling through an hourglass, may not be obvious at first glance. Steven P. Dinkin, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Homelessness: Many sides of the same coin," 23 June 2019 Joseph Goldyne created an etching of an hourglass running down, placed next to a misshapen pear. Susan Dunne, courant.com, "Contemporary still lifes juxtaposed with classic counterparts at University of Saint Joseph," 29 July 2019 These large snakes, found through the southern and eastern United States, have bodies that range from tan to copper to gray, with characteristic hourglass-shaped stripes. National Geographic, "Copperheads," 22 July 2019 Zac built a lace-up corset into the dress to accentuate her waist and show off her hourglass figure. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "Inside Oscars Night With Supermodel Ashley Graham," 25 Feb. 2019 The unusual look fit perfectly and was cinched in at the waist, creating an iconic hourglass figure. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kourtney Kardashian's Silver Strapless Dress Will Give You Serious Tin Foil Vibes," 8 Dec. 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

31 Aug 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 How to pronounce hourglass (audio) \

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

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).


miscellaneous remnants or debris

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