sextant

noun
sex·​tant | \ ˈsek-stənt How to pronounce sextant (audio) \

Definition of sextant

: an instrument for measuring angular distances used especially in navigation to observe altitudes of celestial bodies (as in ascertaining latitude and longitude)

Illustration of sextant

Illustration of sextant

Examples of sextant in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The astrodome included a hanging point for a sextant so navigators would not have to hold the weighty instrument. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, 25 Apr. 2021 For centuries, using a sextant, a sailor could mark a ship’s location by making a few calculations to determine a star’s position relative to the horizon. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, 25 Apr. 2021 One, a rally in the Northeast sextant’s King School Park. oregonlive, 5 Sep. 2020 A year prior, the sextant used by the captain of rescue ship Carpathia sold for just under $97,000. Fox News, 12 June 2020 A year prior, the sextant used by the captain of rescue ship Carpathia sold for just under $97,000. Fox News, 12 June 2020 A year prior, the sextant used by the captain of rescue ship Carpathia sold for just under $97,000. Fox News, 12 June 2020 Darwin's sextant from the voyage aboard the Beagle. National Geographic, 11 June 2020 The city is having a bit of fun with the sextant versus quadrant debate, by offering up a Twitter poll and selling T-shirts with the competing designations. oregonlive, 1 May 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sextant.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of sextant

1628, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sextant

New Latin sextant-, sextans sixth part of a circle, from Latin, sixth part, from sextus sixth

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About sextant

Time Traveler for sextant

Time Traveler

The first known use of sextant was in 1628

See more words from the same year

Statistics for sextant

Last Updated

19 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sextant.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sextant. Accessed 23 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sextant

sextant

noun

English Language Learners Definition of sextant

: an instrument used to determine the position of a ship or airplane by measuring the positions of the stars and sun

More from Merriam-Webster on sextant

Nglish: Translation of sextant for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about sextant

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Return of Name that Color!

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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