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

Examples of sonar in a Sentence

They detected the submarine by using sonar.
Recent Examples on the Web The sonar emits multiple overlapping sonar pings to create an high-resolution image by combining several acoustic pings, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. USA TODAY, 29 Mar. 2024 Authorities said a crew of unknown size was working on the bridge at the time of the collapse and that sonar had detected cars in the water, which is about 50 feet deep. Lawrence Richard, Fox News, 28 Mar. 2024 Baltimore Fire Chief Jim Wallace said Tuesday that sonar showed multiple vehicles on the bed of the river. William Neff, Washington Post, 26 Mar. 2024 Edison does a sonar survey every five years to measure the actual coverage of the reef, Reed said. Phil Diehl, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Mar. 2024 Howland Island Equator Recent sonar images of the ocean floor near Howland Island have captured an image of what might be Earhart’s aircraft. Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times, 13 Mar. 2024 The new probe, which can detect objects under the ice using both sonar and radar, is described in a study published 22 January in IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing. IEEE Spectrum, 4 Mar. 2024 Conservation officer divers, utilizing sonar, recovered Hughes in six feet of water. The Enquirer, 18 Mar. 2024 Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana said the Impala was recovered after fishermen's sonar equipment detected what seemed to be a vehicle beneath the surface of the river, CBS affiliate WIFR reported. Emily Mae Czachor, CBS News, 13 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sonar.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 17 Apr. 2024.

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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