sun·​di·​al | \ ˈsən-ˌdī(-ə)l How to pronounce sundial (audio) \

Definition of sundial

: an instrument to show the time of day by the shadow of a gnomon on a usually horizontal plate or on a cylindrical surface

Examples of sundial in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The pole serves as a gnomon, the part of a sundial that casts a shadow to denote time. Jeanne Huber, Washington Post, "Reattaching the bowl of a cast-iron birdbath," 20 Apr. 2020 Without the 9 to 5 metering out the hours of our day, breakfast-time, lunch-time, snack-time and dinner-time have become the new sundials of our waking hours. Amanda Albee, Dallas News, "Crawfish, barbecue and phorrito: 3 family-style takeout platters that will get you through the weekend," 17 Apr. 2020 Some 5,000 years ago, Mesopotamians used cuneiform writing to preserve information; the Roman playwright Plautus wrote that sundials chopped the day into pieces. Emily Baumgaertner, Los Angeles Times, "My New Year’s resolution to be more organized turned into a methodical nightmare," 1 Jan. 2020 Beep’s and the sundial are on our 49 Mile Scenic Route. Heather Knight,, "A 49 Mile reminder of San Francisco’s magic," 15 Nov. 2019 At noon, with the sun blazing directly above, the cubes are intensely animated, each a shimmering box-within-a-box casting dramatic shadows that change shapes and positions throughout the day, like a sundial. Deborah Vankin, Los Angeles Times, "What are those glowing red cubes outside MOCA? Meet Larry Bell’s latest work," 30 Sep. 2019 Nearby fun: In Carefree Desert Gardens, about three miles from the resort, is one of the largest working sundials in the U.S. Los Angeles Times, "Money Matters: Last-minute Labor Day escapes," 17 Aug. 2019 The time for each image will then be confirmed, using digital sundials to calculate shadow length and direction. Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, The New York Review of Books, "Bellingcat and How Open Source Reinvented Investigative Journalism," 10 June 2019 Art deco details abound, including a sundial on the front of the house, door medallions, and a dramatic staircase in the foyer. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Art Deco estate designed by Charles Eames asks $1.9M," 26 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sundial.' 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 sundial

1555, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of sundial was in 1555

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Cite this Entry

“Sundial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Aug. 2020.

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How to pronounce sundial (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sundial

: a device that is used to show the time of day by the position of the sun and that consists of a plate with markings like a clock and an object with a straight edge that casts a shadow onto the plate


sun·​di·​al | \ ˈsən-ˌdī-əl How to pronounce sundial (audio) \

Kids Definition of sundial

: a device that shows the time of day by the position of the shadow cast onto a marked plate by an object with a straight edge

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More from Merriam-Webster on sundial

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sundial

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sundial

Spanish Central: Translation of sundial

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

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