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

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 Kings have been trickling into the Kenai at a paltry rate: On June 16, just 18 were counted by sonar. Matt Tunseth, Anchorage Daily News, "All king salmon fishing on the Kenai River closed starting Wednesday," 19 June 2018 The BEMs drop to the sea bed as a shoal, scan the area with sonar, and return to upload their data and recharge their batteries. The Economist, "A better way to transmit messages underwater," 10 May 2018 Jennifer White's daughter told the state that boats are using sonars and workers are checking around docks. William Thornton,, "Search for missing Moulton woman moves to Smith Lake," 29 Apr. 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

20 Oct 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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Comments on sonar

What made you want to look up sonar? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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