so·​nar | \ ˈsō-ˌnär How to pronounce sonar (audio) \

Definition of sonar

: a method or device for detecting and locating objects especially underwater by means of sound waves sent out to be reflected by the objects also : a device for detecting the presence of a vessel (such as a submarine) by the sound it emits in water

Examples of sonar in a Sentence

They detected the submarine by using sonar.

Recent Examples on the Web

This necessitated nuclear propulsion, a deep diving capability, powerful sonar, and long range guided weapons. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Navy’s Next Attack Submarine Will Be Big, Expensive," 22 Oct. 2018 During the war, the U.S. Navy developed new technology like sonar and echo sounding to hunt for German submarines. Meg Neal, Popular Mechanics, "We’ve Been Wrong Before: The Expanding Earth Theory," 3 Aug. 2018 About a year ago, Japanese researchers spotted the shipwreck on sonar not far from where the Hiei was reported sunk in 1942. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Sunken Japanese World War II Battleship Discovered Off Solomon Islands," 7 Feb. 2019 The five AUVs used in the search are equipped with side-scan sonar, multi-beam echo-sounder for seabed mapping, an HD camera, and synthetic aperture sonar. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Doomed Argentine sub found a year after its disappearance," 19 Nov. 2018 Passive sonar involves detecting sonar broadcasts or other noises made by enemy ships. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "DARPA Wants to Turn Sealife Into a Giant Submarine Detection Network," 5 Mar. 2019 The little rover, which can carry upwards of 50 pounds of cargo, is packed with sensors including LIDAR, GPS, sonar, and a computer vision camera that helps it get around without causing too much trouble on pedestrian pathways. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Postmates’ new autonomous robot wants to deliver your sushi," 17 Dec. 2018 Since the jet crashed Monday shortly after takeoff, ships with sonar and as many as 100 divers have been concentrating their efforts near a debris field off the coast north of Jakarta. Ben Otto, WSJ, "Lion Air Jet Struck the Water at High Speed, Investigator Says," 31 Oct. 2018 Funded by the NOAA Office of Exploration and Research and supported by Project Recover, experts used multibeam sonar to locate the wreck, which was then explored using a deep-diving remotely operated vehicle. James Rogers, Fox News, "Stern of US WW II destroyer discovered near remote Alaskan island: Survivor recounts harrowing day," 16 Aug. 2018

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

1943, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sonar

sound navigation ranging

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Statistics for sonar

Last Updated

21 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for sonar

The first known use of sonar was in 1943

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More Definitions for sonar



English Language Learners Definition of sonar

: a device used for finding things that are underwater by using sound waves


so·​nar | \ ˈsō-ˌnär How to pronounce sonar (audio) \

Kids Definition of sonar

: a device for detecting objects underwater using reflected sound waves

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More from Merriam-Webster on sonar

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sonar

Spanish Central: Translation of sonar

Nglish: Translation of sonar for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about sonar

Comments on sonar

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to move or proceed with twists and turns

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