sun·​set | \ˈsən-ˌset \

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

Activities include kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, a sunset hike and a beach campfire. Staff Report, Post-Tribune, "Community news," 11 July 2018 President Donald Trump ordered flags flown at half-staff on federal property through sunset. David Mcfadden, Fox News, "Suspect wrote he aimed to kill everyone at Maryland newsroom," 4 July 2018 President Donald Trump ordered flags flown at half-staff on federal property through sunset. David Mcfadden, Anchorage Daily News, "Suspect wrote he aimed to kill everyone at Maryland newsroom," 3 July 2018 The plague moved swiftly and horribly; some contemporary accounts describe people who were healthy at sunrise and dead by sunset. Anne Thériault, Longreads, "Queens of Infamy: Joanna of Naples," 3 July 2018 Sunrise and sunset launches are always a playground for photographers and especially so for the talented Trevor Mahlmann, who periodically shoots flights for Ars. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "The final launch of SpaceX’s Block 4 rocket looked stunning," 1 July 2018 Aim to catch the sunset with a happy hour cocktail in hand. Sam Dangremond, Town & Country, "T&C Travel Guide: Napa Valley and Sonoma County, California," 9 July 2018 As the evening wore on, a layer of clouds turned pink with the deepening sunset and people spilled out onto the sidewalks. Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times, "Russia Relaxes, for a Moment, to Let Soccer Fans Rejoice," 2 July 2018 Catch the sunset over the water from the main-level wet bar overlooking the dock, or enjoy a drink while soaking in the hot tub on the upper deck. Maureen C. Gilmer, Indianapolis Star, "Hot Property: A river runs through this northside retreat," 29 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 If passed, the bill would sunset ICE within one year, then create a bipartisan group to work out a replacement. Jeff Stein And David Weigel,, "Democrats ready 'Abolish ICE' legislation that would shutter agency, shift immigration law enforcement," 10 July 2018 But there are other significant rifts: on Canadian and Mexican access to U.S. government projects, on whether the deal will sunset, and the process for resolving disputes. Tory Newmyer, Washington Post, "The Finance 202: Trump's NAFTA pledge in danger as key deadline passes," 17 May 2018 The pilot program is scheduled to sunset on July 12. Martin E. Comas,, "Seminole makes backyard chicken program permanent," 12 June 2018 If approved, the increase would take effect April 1 and would sunset after seven years. Phil Diehl,, "Oceanside puts sales tax hike on November ballot," 7 June 2018 Knowing that Sidi would arrive during the month of Ramadan, a period of fasting for Muslims from sunrise to sunset each day, the President ordered that the State Dinner be rescheduled to take place precisely at sunset. Fez Zafar, Teen Vogue, "Why I Started the American Iftar Dinner," 5 June 2018 Those partnerships were allowed to begin to sunset beginning in April, following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, while a spokesperson for Apple, for one, said the company no longer had access to such data as of last September. Dan Rys, Billboard, "Facebook Privacy Issues Arise Again Following New Data-Sharing Report," 4 June 2018 There is no fee to enter the bike park, which will be open daily for the season from 10 a.m. to sunset. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "Mountain bike trails re-open at The Parklands for the summer," 30 May 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

2 Nov 2018

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 \

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

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).


something that serves to warn or remind

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!