sol·​stice | \ ˈsäl-stəs How to pronounce solstice (audio) , ˈsōl-, ˈsȯl-\

Definition of solstice

1 : either of the two points on the ecliptic at which its distance from the celestial equator is greatest and which is reached by the sun each year about June 21 and December 21
2 : the time of the sun's passing a solstice which occurs about June 21 to begin summer in the northern hemisphere and about December 21 to begin winter in the northern hemisphere

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Did You Know?

In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice occurs on June 21 or 22 and the winter solstice on December 21 or 22. In the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are reversed, the solstices are exactly the opposite. For several days around the time of the solstices, the sun's appearance on the horizon at sunrise and sunset seems to occur at the same spot, before it starts drifting to the north or south again. Solstice gets its shine from sol, the Latin word for "sun." The ancients added sol to -stit- ("standing") and came up with solstitium. Middle English speakers shortened solstitium to solstice in the 13th century.

Examples of solstice in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

This small marsupial synchronizes its fertility with fading light levels after the summer solstice, resulting in births six weeks afterward, and subsequent high demands on mothers when food resources are at their peak. Babak Tafreshi, National Geographic, "Our nights are getting brighter, and Earth is paying the price," 3 Apr. 2019 While the solstice precedes the Fourth of July by a few weeks or so, the Fourth always feels like both the beginning of summer and its peak. Alison Roman, New York Times, "A Recipe for When You (Gasp) Grow Tired of Hot Dogs," 1 July 2019 Yakuts mark the summer solstice holiday of Ysyakh to honor these nature deities and to celebrate renewal and fertility. Alexey Vasilyev, National Geographic, "How to celebrate summer in the world’s coldest city," 27 June 2019 Harvesting herbs is simple, and many of these flourishing plants benefit from a trimming around the summer solstice. Colleen Smith, The Denver Post, "Tips on harvesting herbs for good food and your good health," 27 June 2019 Friday, the summer solstice, marked the culmination of Earp’s fundraising efforts, since, on that day, the association celebrates the day with the most light to combat the darkness of Alzheimer’s. Christine Condon,, "After seeing family members struggle, Hereford student does her part to help battle Alzheimer's," 25 June 2019 And although many anglers have been fishing all year long, the summer solstice brings long, warm days on the water that are much more attractive to everyone. Patricia Cameron, The Know, "10 of the best spots to fish in Colorado," 22 June 2019 By the way, the solstice happens at 11:54 a.m. Friday in the northern hemisphere, when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer, at 23.5 degrees north latitude. Doreen Christensen,, "Celebrate the first day of summer with $5 rum cocktails at Bahama Breeze on Friday," 21 June 2019 The date isn’t just significant for being the summer solstice. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Fête de la Musique, the worldwide midsummer musical bash, explained," 21 June 2019

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for solstice

Middle English, from Latin solstitium, from sol sun + -stit-, -stes standing; akin to Latin stare to stand — more at solar, stand

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Last Updated

19 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for solstice

The first known use of solstice was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for solstice



English Language Learners Definition of solstice

: one of the two times during the year when the sun is farthest north or south of the equator


sol·​stice | \ ˈsäl-stəs How to pronounce solstice (audio) , ˈsōl-, ˈsȯl-\

Kids Definition of solstice

: the time of the year when the sun passes overhead the farthest north ( summer solstice , about June 22) or south ( winter solstice , about December 22) of the equator

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More from Merriam-Webster on solstice

Spanish Central: Translation of solstice

Nglish: Translation of solstice for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of solstice for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about solstice

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