sun·​set | \ ˈsən-ˌset How to pronounce sunset (audio) \

Definition of sunset

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : the apparent descent of the sun below the horizon also : the accompanying atmospheric effects
2 : the time when the upper limb of the sun disappears below the horizon as a result of the diurnal rotation of the earth
3 : a period of decline especially : old age



Definition of sunset (Entry 2 of 3)

: stipulating the periodic review of government agencies and programs in order to continue their existence sunset laws


sunsetted; sunsetting

Definition of sunset (Entry 3 of 3)

1 transitive : to cause or allow (something, such as a law) to lapse, end, or be terminated And yet, even though he was part of the coalition, Obama offered an amendment … that would have sunsetted the merit-based evaluation system for immigrants after five years.— Jake Tapper In an effort to cut back on projects, Google decided to sunset Google Reader …— Tristan Louis
2 intransitive : to lapse or come to an end : expire laws that will sunset at the end of the year Since the credit will sunset at the end of 2016, its fate could rest in the hands of a new Congress and a new president—who might not necessarily see the value in reinstating the credit.— Eric S. Peterson

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of sunset in a Sentence


We worked from sunrise to sunset. the golden light of sunset

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The ringed world rises in the southeast at sunset and is visible all evening. Arnold Pearlstein,, "The Stars This Week: July 7 - 13," 7 July 2019 Guests can choose either a 40-minute Fireworks Aerial tour with a champagne toast ($269 per person) or the Twilight Picnic tour, which lands on a private bluff near the Red Rock Conservatory at sunset, with panoramic views of the Las Vegas skyline. Juliana Shallcross, Condé Nast Traveler, "Where to Watch Fourth of July Fireworks in Las Vegas," 4 July 2019 The sale starts in the early morning at Ditch Plains and ends at sunset with a terrific vintage runway show of sorts—all kinds of local, madcap characters get involved. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Vogue’s Official Guide to the Hamptons," 3 July 2019 In the special election held May 4, Dickinson voters elected to keep the current sales tax rate, which is held under a sunset clause and must be voted on every four years in order to maintain it. Jennifer Bolton, Houston Chronicle, "Incumbent unseated in Dickinson council runoff," 11 June 2019 But Trudeau objected strenuously to a sunset clause of any length. Fox News, "Trump pulls out of joint G-7 statement, attacks Trudeau," 10 June 2018 But the United States want a sunset clause in NAFTA, which makes no sense. NBC News, "Meet the Press - June 3, 2018," 3 June 2018 True, the deal has flaws, including sunset clauses that permit Iran to restart the program – under continued inspection – after 10-15 years. Trudy Rubin,, "Trump's foolish abandonment of Iran nuclear deal makes U.S., Israel less safe | Trudy Rubin," 8 May 2018 Approved last August, the measure includes a sunset clause requiring the village board to revisit the fee every year and giving residents 65 and older a 25 percent discount. Erin Sauder, Elgin Courier-News, "East Dundee to keep trash pickup fee in place for now," 18 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Only rental units that are 10 years old or older would be covered, the bill would sunset after three years and landlords who own 10 or fewer single-family homes would be exempt. Marisa Kendall, The Mercury News, "Rent cap bill would limit rent hikes for millions of California households, report says," 9 July 2019 Reservations are issued in two shifts on a given Saturday, Sunday or holiday — 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to sunset. Erika Butler,, "First weekend of Kilgore Falls reservations goes well, Saturday and Sunday to be the test," 4 July 2019 The charge, which adds a few dollars to monthly electricity bills, is set to sunset in 2020. Taryn Luna,, "California needs a big pot of money for wildfires. But how big? And who pays?," 17 June 2019 Activities range from cocktail making classes to wine tastings, and scuba diving to sunset cruises. Lindsay Silberman, Town & Country, "The Best Room At...Joali Maldives," 12 May 2019 The nuclear deal’s restrictions on sales to Iran of conventional weapons and ballistic-missile technology will sunset in 2020 and 2023, respectively. Reuel Marc Gerecht, WSJ, "Tehran Counts on a Divided West," 12 Dec. 2018 Free traders also defeated the Trump demand to automatically sunset the deal every five years. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "A New Nafta Relief," 1 Oct. 2018 Separately, voters in Montana appear to be rejecting a ballot to continue their Medicaid expansion (its funding is set to sunset this summer). Sarah Kliff, Vox, "Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah vote to expand Medicaid," 7 Nov. 2018 Another House GOP priority — to sunset all of the workforce development programs to start anew — also failed to make it to a floor vote. Kaitlin L Lange, Indianapolis Star, "House bill consolidating townships dies without a vote, despite support from House leaders," 5 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sunset.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of sunset


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1974, in the meaning defined above


1976, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sunset

Statistics for sunset

Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sunset

The first known use of sunset was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sunset



English Language Learners Definition of sunset

: the time when the sun goes below the horizon in the evening
: the colors that are in the sky when the sun slowly goes below the horizon


sun·​set | \ ˈsən-ˌset How to pronounce sunset (audio) \

Kids Definition of sunset

1 : the apparent passing of the sun below the horizon
2 : the light and color of the passing of the sun below the horizon
3 : the time at which the sun sets



Legal Definition of sunset

: having or being a provision stipulating the termination or repeal of something (as a law, grant, or insurance coverage) on a specified date sunset laws requiring periodic review of programs to justify their continuance

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on sunset

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sunset

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sunset

Spanish Central: Translation of sunset

Nglish: Translation of sunset for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sunset for Arabic Speakers

Comments on sunset

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


an act or instance of editing or removing

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!