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

Other Words from optical

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for optical



  • nonvisual
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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 A few weeks ago, Chris, the former Army Ranger, acquired advanced night-optical devices and thermals from one of the groups in Rawlings’s network, Project SIRIN. Karoun Demirjian, Washington Post, 2 June 2022 Discussion of the new S-Class will probably be dominated by whether or not the flashy optical-fiber lighting is distracting or not, which is ironic considering the car is a great example of how technology can work with the driver. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, 31 Mar. 2022 Unlike Kyb, Switchblade is equipped with electro-optical and infrared cameras, enabling the drone operator to visually steer the drone to target. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 28 Mar. 2022 The many layers of artifice create a cascade of optical illusions and visual puns. Elvia Wilk, The New York Review of Books, 23 Mar. 2022 Timbuk3 clearly had great prescience: Just a year after this song’s release, David Pritchard and Steven Chu first trapped atoms in a magneto-optical trap (or MOT) at Bell Labs, laying the foundation for the cold atom revolution to follow. Paul Lipman, Forbes, 3 Sep. 2021 The optical character recognition tool of the 1950 census translated his name as Laron Helms. Bill Bowden, Arkansas Online, 10 Apr. 2022 The triple-lens camera has a 64-megapixel Sony IMX787 primary camera with an F/1.6 aperture and optical image stabilization. Chris Smith, BGR, 25 Feb. 2022 Substantial infrastructure on the ground would need to be developed for similar optical systems to be deployed in future missions. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 13 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of optical

1570, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for optical

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The first known use of optical was in 1570

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Dictionary Entries Near optical



optical activity

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Statistics for optical

Last Updated

28 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Optical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/optical. Accessed 1 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for optical


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

More from Merriam-Webster on optical

Nglish: Translation of optical for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of optical for Arabic Speakers


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