sol·stice | \ ˈsäl-stəs , 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

Pömmelte henge, however, has its four entrances aligned with dates half way between the equinoxes and solstices. Fox News, "German ‘Stonehenge’ site reveals 10 dismembered bodies of women, children," 1 July 2018 On the longest day of the year — Philadelphians will experience 15 hours and 35 seconds of sunlight during Thursday’s solstice — solar energy was at the top of the agenda for the Philadelphia Energy Authority. Andrew Maykuth,, "On year's longest day, Philly energy agency enlists homeowners to install solar," 21 June 2018 Many countries celebrate the saint as well as the longest day of the year during their solstice celebrations. Caroline Simon, USA TODAY, "The Summer Solstice isn't just about weather - it's also about romance," 21 June 2018 Stockman is putting together an indigo block printing summer solstice party at her compound in Joshua Tree, while Kaminski has more itinerant plans. Madeleine Luckel, Vogue, "Summer DIY Inspiration From Women Artisans Who Have Turned Their Crafts Into Serious Business," 24 May 2018 Our research indicated that a number of these small structures and many of the lines pointed to the June solstice sunset. Charles Stanish, Smithsonian, "How Feasting Rituals Help Shape Human Civilization," 5 July 2018 And enjoy this mystical-meets-modern peek at today’s solstice sunrise over Stonehenge. Morning Brief, The Seattle Times, "Summer solstice is here and Trump’s halt to family separations brings confusion, big questions | Thursday Morning Brief, June 21," 22 June 2018 At a summer solstice party hosted by the Streicher Sisters in Beverly Hills, California. Aubri Juhasz, The Cut, "The Best-est Party Looks of the Week," 22 June 2018 Ben Birchall—PA Images/Getty Images The solstice is believed to have been celebrated for thousands of years at Stonehenge, which is comprised of more than a dozen stone pillars that appear aligned to the solar cycle. Eli Meixler, Time, "Thousands Gather for Summer Solstice at Stonehenge to Celebrate the Longest Day of the Year," 21 June 2018

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

13th 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

13 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for solstice

The first known use of solstice was in the 13th 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 , 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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