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 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 The 9 Pro, with an optical zoom of just 3.3X, doesn't have a great telephoto lens, however. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "OnePlus 9 review: 3 great and 2 not-so-great things to know about the new phone," 25 Mar. 2021 The telephoto lens handles optical zoom on a phone and is usually bulky. Chris Smith, BGR, "Xiaomi’s first foldable device might feature a liquid lens camera," 25 Mar. 2021 Galaxy S21 Ultra which is capable of up to 10x optical zoom. Paul Monckton, Forbes, "New Apple Leak Reveals Massive iPhone Camera Upgrades," 11 Mar. 2021 Periscope cameras are currently the only way to significantly upgrade optical zoom on phones without increasing the camera bump size. Chris Smith, BGR, "Top insider leaks exciting new cameras coming to next-gen iPhones," 9 Mar. 2021 Apple claims this new camera system delivers 87% better low‑light photos, 5 times the optical zoom range, and superior Night Mode portraits. Camryn Rabideau, USA TODAY, "These are the absolute best Apple products you can buy," 9 Mar. 2021 Oscillations originating deep inside the sun become detectable only on the surface, at which point scientists use optical, spectroscopic and radio instruments to measure the phenomena. Anna Diamond, Smithsonian Magazine, "How Do Scientists Record Sounds From the Sun? And More Questions From Our Readers," 10 Mar. 2020 Every month brings a new set of designs, each with a particular theme, such as fractals, optical illusions and Mobius strips. Washington Post, "Virtual ‘sculpture,’ based on math, that’s everywhere and nowhere at once," 25 Feb. 2021 Flaws in telescopy caused optical illusions that astronomers mistook for atmospheric phenomena, throwing off their measurements, while others waited lifetimes to see it–only for the clouds to gather for the duration. Jo Livingstone, The New Republic, "The Polite Rage of Shirley Hazzard," 19 Feb. 2021

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

5 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Optical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/optical. Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for optical



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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Comments on optical

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