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 We are allotted at least that much daylight for about 100 days, running past the solstice, through July, and into August. Washington Post, "We had long, bright hours to enjoy May Day and its symbolism," 2 May 2021 Gamble said by staying on standard time all year, the sun would rise at 4:38 a.m. on June 21 – the summer solstice, or the longest day of the year – and set around 7 p.m. John Sharp, al, "Spring forward, forever: Alabama lawmakers advance permanent daylight saving time," 28 Apr. 2021 June brings another on-your-own hike, this time on the summer solstice, June 20-21. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "From backpacking to snowshoeing, Trailtessa events introduce more women to the outdoors," 22 Apr. 2021 Its path in the sky rose higher and the days grew longer until the summer solstice, while its path was the lowest and shortest on the winter solstice. Ethan Siegel, Forbes, "The Biggest Problem In Science Isn’t Groupthink," 10 Mar. 2021 Remember when the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn was supposed to be visible on the winter solstice? Kori Rumore,, "Winter is over — for meteorologists. We chart how this season stands up in terms of cold, rain and, yes, snow," 3 Mar. 2021 Does the listener need to know anything about the solstice, the equinox, Saturn, moons in transit, astrological signs, that kind of thing, to get everything out of this? Corey Seymour, Vogue, "How Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes and Wendy Bevan Created the Transcendent Soundtrack for our Perilous Time," 23 Apr. 2021 The traditional start date of the Kumbh, Makara Sankranti, or the winter solstice, is in January. Tulasi Srinivas, The Conversation, "India prepares for Kumbh Mela, world’s largest religious gathering, amid COVID-19 fears," 8 Apr. 2021 On roughly 4 days every year, the winter solstice sun pokes through the top of this Stone Age monument and onto the floor of the interior chamber, filling the ancient temple with light for about 17 minutes. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, "The World’s 20 Most Impressive Ancient Builds," 8 Apr. 2021

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

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Last Updated

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Solstice.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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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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