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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In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice usually occurs on June 20 or 21 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- (a participial stem of sistere, which means "to stand still") and came up with solstitium. Middle English speakers shortened solstitium to solstice in the 14th century.

Examples of solstice in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The length of days will begin to increase until the summer solstice on June 21, 2022. Leada Gore |, al, 1 Nov. 2021 That's why the sun never sets at all in the Arctic Circle during the time around the summer solstice. Forrest Brown, CNN, 19 Mar. 2022 On that day, the winter solstice, the sun rose at 8:02 a.m. and set at 5:23 p.m. Without the adjustment back to standard time, Hoosiers wouldn't see the sun rise until past 9 a.m. Claire Rafford, The Indianapolis Star, 16 Mar. 2022 The winter solstice shoot spanned only two days — Dec. 21-22, 2020. Lesley O’toole, Los Angeles Times, 15 Mar. 2022 The king cake dates back centuries to an ancient Roman festival celebrating the solstice. CBS News, 27 Feb. 2022 Today is the solstice, marking the official beginning of winter. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, 21 Dec. 2021 The biggest event takes place on the summer solstice, a two-day-long party that attracts more than a hundred people. New York Times, 14 Mar. 2022 The origin of this is that Su Song was sent to offer greetings on the winter solstice to a neighboring kingdom. Clara Moskowitz, Scientific American, 28 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

14 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Solstice.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for solstice


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

More from Merriam-Webster on solstice

Nglish: Translation of solstice for Spanish Speakers

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


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