so·​nar | \ ˈsō-ˌnär \

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

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 More than 86,000 reds were counted at the Miles Lake sonar between mid-June and the beginning of July, compared to a preseason projection of more than 57,000. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "Chitina dipnet fishing to open Thursday amid rising sockeye numbers," 10 July 2018 Another glitch was the parking sonar picked up the bottom of my not-steep driveway apron in flat Chicago and locked up the brakes. Andy Mikonis,, "Auto review: Mercedes-Benz S560 Cabriolet options over $150,000 of drop-top luxury," 13 June 2018 The Elgin Fire Department’s Dive Team, with aid from dive teams from several suburban towns and sonar and robot equipment, looked for Elam until about 3 a.m. Thursday. Janelle Walker, Elgin Courier-News, "Man who drowned in Fox River during fireworks show ID'd as Elgin resident," 6 July 2018 According to a press release, the submarine was located by the research ship Viña, which was scanning the seabed near the town of Skagen when the unmistakable profile of the submarine appeared on its sonar. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Wreck of Nazi Germany’s Most Advanced U-Boat Discovered," 24 Apr. 2018 Ceka said, praising its professional divers, high-tech sonar and remotely operated underwater vehicle. Washington Post, "Archaeologists urge Albania to protect underwater heritage," 4 July 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

29 Dec 2018

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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 \

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

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