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 The sonar at Miles Lake stopped counting July 28 and met the minimum escapement, but without a commercial fishery. Elizabeth Earl, Anchorage Daily News, "Bizarre Alaska salmon season winds down short of managers' projections," 11 Sep. 2020 The war spawned technologies like sonar that were soon applied to fishing, and catch records grew through the ensuing decades. Tristram Korten, Smithsonian Magazine, "With Boats Stuck in Harbor Because of COVID-19, Will Fish Bounce Back?," 8 Apr. 2020 After serving in the Korean War as a Navy sonar technician, Mr. Ruby returned home and set about proving his father wrong. Harrison Smith, Washington Post, "Joe Ruby, TV writer and producer who co-created Scooby-Doo, dies at 87," 31 Aug. 2020 In October 2003, the Hartford ran aground in Sardinia in the Mediterranean with enough force to damage its rudders, sonar and electronics. Stephen Singer,, "In competition with public shipyards for repair work, Electric Boat wins $126 million Navy maintenance contract," 24 Aug. 2020 The search for 36-year-old Marilane Carter would rely on volunteer boaters for sonar and software mapping near Mud Island. Fox News, "Search for missing Kansas mother of 3 shifts to Mississippi River after husband's heartbreaking plea," 13 Aug. 2020 Some groups want the Navy to merely limit the use of sonar and other loud underwater activities while others seek an outright ban. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Hypersonic Weapons Testing Faces a Big Problem: Killer Whales," 30 July 2020 The Pierce County Sheriff’s Dive Team joined the search Sunday, deploying divers and sonar. Fox News, "Soldier stationed in Washington state drowns in lake at Mount Rainier National Park," 20 Aug. 2020 Among other tasks, crew members worked to improve radar and sonar, finetune the use of explosives, and intercept enemy intelligence. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, "The History Behind the ‘Greyhound’ Movie," 11 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for sonar

Time Traveler

The first known use of sonar was in 1943

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Statistics for sonar

Last Updated

21 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sonar.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for sonar


How to pronounce sonar (audio)

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

More from Merriam-Webster on sonar

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

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