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

That is almost 14 hours more daylight than the city sees on the winter solstice in December. Author: Justin Grieser, Anchorage Daily News, "Five things to know about the longest day of the year," 21 June 2018 The skinny: Held on the summer solstice, Make Music Chicago happens across the city. Hannah Steinkopf-frank, RedEye Chicago, "Chicago festivals this week: Make Music Chicago, Logan Square Arts Festival, Pride Parade," 20 June 2018 On Sunday, indigenous communities along the path of the once powerful Incan Empire gathered for the Southern Hemisphere’s winter solstice to honor the ancient sun god Inti. Washington Post, "AP PHOTOS: Incan festival pays homage to sun across Andes," 25 June 2018 Google is marking the start of summer with a new Doodle dedicated to the 2018 summer solstice. Mahita Gajanan, Time, "Summer Is Officially Here. Celebrate With This Tranquil Google Doodle Celebrating the 2018 Summer Solstice," 21 June 2018 On Saturday, Atkins headlines Molestice, the fab free summer solstice-celebrating festival on one of Center City’s most charming streets., "Manayunk Arts Festival, Juneteenth, Bluebird Distilling 3rd Anniversary Party, and other events in Philadelphia, June 22-29," 21 June 2018 Bringing anything that's locally in season into your living space can be a tribute to the summer solstice., "The 3 Plants You Need To Welcome Summer," 20 June 2018 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

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

11 Oct 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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evasion of direct action or statement

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