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

Example Sentences

They detected the submarine by using sonar.
Recent Examples on the Web Patrol divers using sonar searched the murky waters until all three were recovered Tuesday night. CBS News, 9 Nov. 2022 Its exact location was unknown for more than a century, but scientists have now found the wreck of the Mesaba by using multibeam sonar. Amarachi Orie And Christian Edwards, CNN, 28 Sep. 2022 The search will resume Friday morning, with sonar and other equipment being brought in, WDTN reports. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, 20 Oct. 2022 The Formula 1-style spoiler at the front advances and retracts to balance the horizontal trim, and provides protection as a fender, while also holding the cameras, lights and sonar. Julia Zaltzman, Robb Report, 14 Oct. 2022 Several different, and some much more developed, methods already exist to study glaciers, including seismology, satellite photography, underwater sonar and ice-penetrating radar. Nell Lewis, CNN, 27 Sep. 2022 Crews used sonar, a drone, and a fire department canine., 18 Sep. 2022 The body of the boater, whose identity was not released, was recovered at 12:20 p.m. by rescuers using sonar at Lake Lashaway, the North Brookfield Fire Department said in a statement., 18 Sep. 2022 Over the weekend, a UW vessel using multiple types of sonar was able to identify a significant portion of the plane. Sarah Grace Taylor, Anchorage Daily News, 13 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


sound navigation ranging

First Known Use

1943, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sonar was in 1943

Dictionary Entries Near sonar

Cite this Entry

“Sonar.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



so·​nar ˈsō-ˌnär How to pronounce sonar (audio)
: a device for detecting the presence and location of submerged objects (as submarines) by sound waves

More from Merriam-Webster on sonar

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