op·​ti·​cal | \ ˈäp-ti-kəl How to pronounce optical (audio) \

Definition of optical

1 : of or relating to the science of optics
2a : of or relating to vision : visual
b : visible sense 1 optical wavelength
c : of, relating to, or being objects that emit light in the visible range of frequencies an optical galaxy
d : using the properties of light to aid vision an optical instrument
3a : of, relating to, or utilizing light especially instead of other forms of energy optical microscopy
b : involving the use of light-sensitive devices to acquire information for a computer optical character recognition
4 : of or relating to optical art

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Other Words from optical

optically \ ˈäp-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce optically (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for optical



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Examples of optical in a Sentence

The company manufactures microscopes, telescopes, and other optical instruments. an optical illusion that fools most people
Recent Examples on the Web The sound bar can be hooked up to your TV via optical, digital coaxial, or AUX and comes with a wall-mount setup. Billy Cadden, Popular Science, "The best sound bars," 16 Jan. 2020 Cobra Ball is yet another spy plane based on the Boeing 707 airframe and is equipped with optical and electronic sensors to observe ballistic missile tests. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Why Did U.S. Spy Planes Watch Over North Korea on Christmas?," 26 Dec. 2019 The equipment includes optical and thermal cameras, as well as spectrometric systems that identify the chemical makeup of substances. Brian K. Sullivan, Fortune, "How Artificial Intelligence Could Help Fight Climate Change-Driven Wildfires and Save Lives," 10 Aug. 2019 New Hampshire’s election administrators are proudly old school, continuing to use old-fashioned paper ballots and decades-old optical scanners, that, Scanlan said, have had their modems and external ports disabled. Gilad Edelman, Wired, "After the Iowa Caucus Meltdown, New Hampshire Says It’s Ready," 6 Feb. 2020 American law does not address the responsibilities of satellite operators to optical telescopes, since only in recent years have technology and demand coincided to launch so many new spacecraft. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "SpaceX aims to appease astronomers in latest Starlink satellite launch," 6 Jan. 2020 At present, satellites are only an occasional nuisance for optical and near-infrared astronomy, leaving bright streaks across some images taken through telescopes. Michael Byers And Aaron Boley, Twin Cities, "Byers, Boley: How Elon Musk can help save astronomy," 26 Dec. 2019 The quartet represents essentially all of NSF’s observatories that operate in the optical and infrared wavelengths, but does not include telescopes that observe the Sun. Daniel Clery, Science | AAAS, "U.S. telescopes get a new overseer," 31 Oct. 2019 Different Types of Navigation Robot vacuums tend to have two different types of navigation, infrared and optical (or a combination of both). USA TODAY, "The best robot vacuums of 2019," 16 Oct. 2019

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

1570, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for optical

Time Traveler

The first known use of optical was in 1570

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Statistics for optical

Last Updated

24 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Optical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/optical. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for optical


How to pronounce optical (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of optical

: used to help a person see
: relating to or using light
: involving the use of devices that get information for a computer by identifying patterns of light


op·​ti·​cal | \ ˈäp-ti-kəl How to pronounce optical (audio) \

Kids Definition of optical

1 : relating to the science of optics
2 : relating to seeing : visual
3 : involving the use of devices that are sensitive to light to get information for a computer an optical scanner


op·​ti·​cal | \ ˈäp-ti-kəl How to pronounce optical (audio) \

Medical Definition of optical

1 : of or relating to the science of optics
2a : of or relating to vision : visual
b : using the properties of light to aid vision an optical instrument
3 : of, relating to, or utilizing light optical microscopy

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