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 A year prior, the sextant used by the captain of rescue ship Carpathia sold for just under $97,000. Fox News, "Titanic hero's whistle, other artifacts, up for auction," 12 June 2020 A year prior, the sextant used by the captain of rescue ship Carpathia sold for just under $97,000. Fox News, "Titanic hero's whistle, other artifacts, up for auction," 12 June 2020 Darwin's sextant from the voyage aboard the Beagle. National Geographic, "Darwin's first—and only—trip around the world began a scientific revolution," 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, "South Portland is officially a sextant, but city says you can call it a ‘sixth quadrant'," 1 May 2020 How precious are the signs of what these people actually did, whether open books or sextants or carpenter’s tools; the piano that graces a grave in the City of London, Hogarth’s tomb in Chiswick with his palette and brushes. 1843, "Can words do the dead justice?," 21 May 2020 There are also lots of smaller instruments—thermometers, sextants, astrolabes—and plenty of globes, as well as an enormous armillary sphere, designed and built by the Italian astronomer Antonio Santucci. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Take a virtual tour of the Museo Galileo in Florence, Italy," 17 May 2020 The sextant sailors used in the 18th century for celestial navigation had a telescopic attachment (which gave Popeye the Sailor his characteristic squint). Austin Grossman, The Atlantic, "Monocles Were Never Cool," 13 Oct. 2019 A year prior, the sextant used by the captain of rescue ship Carpathia sold for just under $97,000. Fox News, "Titanic wreckwood cross surfaces, up for auction," 9 Oct. 2019

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for sextant

Time Traveler

The first known use of sextant was in 1628

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Statistics for sextant

Last Updated

5 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sextant.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sextant. Accessed 14 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for sextant

sextant

noun
How to pronounce sextant (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on sextant

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sextant

Spanish Central: Translation of sextant

Nglish: Translation of sextant for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about sextant

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