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

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Examples of sunset in a Sentence


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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Run by an Ibizan who serves a special caipirinha made of passion fruit and some Brazilian pink flowers, best enjoyed at sunset. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "An Insider’s Guide to Atins, a Hidden Paradise on the Northeast Coast of Brazil," 18 Jan. 2019 For the fifth year, the National World War I Museum and Memorial is inviting people to gather at the base of the tower at sunset to hear a lone bugler play taps. Matt Campbell, kansascity, "Taps at the Tower returns for a week at Liberty Memorial, picnics welcome," 14 June 2018 Facundo Menossi, who leads horse tours at sunrise, sunset, and under the full moon through the locality and the park, is a typical story. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "An Insider’s Guide to Atins, a Hidden Paradise on the Northeast Coast of Brazil," 18 Jan. 2019 The penthouse will also have its own gym, two private elevators, a home movie theater, a Turkish hammam, a putting green, two outdoor kitchens and two 45-foot-long infinity pools on either side of the unit for swims at sunrise and sunset. Katherine Clarke, WSJ, "Renzo Piano-Designed Miami Beach Penthouse Could Set Florida Record," 4 Dec. 2018 Another change is a sunset clause, where the agreement would lapse after 16 years if it isn’t actively negotiated. Jon Talton, The Seattle Times, "Learning the wrong lessons from Trump’s rebranded NAFTA," 2 Oct. 2018 Holt, an environmental artist, placed her concrete tunnels at 90-degree angles, about 12 feet apart, to align with the sunrise and sunset of the summer and winter solstices. Anne Slowey, Condé Nast Traveler, "Fear and Self-Loathing in the American Southwest," 25 July 2018 The hotel will orbit our planet every 90 minutes, resulting in about 16 sunrises and sunsets every 24 hours. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Luxury space hotel stay will cost you $9.5M," 3 July 2018 Looking for a getaway that offers unmatched views of sunrises and sunsets? Marwa Eltagouri,, "A planned space hotel hopes to welcome guests by 2022 — for $9.5 million a trip," 7 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

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.

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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

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Statistics for sunset

Last Updated

9 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sunset

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

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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

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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).


to express emotion in a dramatic way

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