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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Synonyms & Antonyms for sunset

Synonyms: Noun

dusk, eve, evening, eventide, gloaming, night, nightfall, sundown, twilight

Antonyms: Noun

dawn, dawning, daybreak, daylight, morn, morning, sunrise, sunup

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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

Those 21 and older are invited to paddle at sunset and enjoy adult beverages around a fire from 7 to 10 p.m. July 21. Vickie Snow Jurkowski, Daily Southtown, "5 boozy things to do July 20-21," 11 July 2018 The White House has ordered American flags at all federal buildings world-wide to be flown at half-staff until sunset Tuesday to honor those killed in the Annapolis Capital Gazette shooting. Renae Reints, Fortune, "Trump Orders Flags at Half-Staff to Honor Victims of Capital Gazette Shooting," 3 July 2018 Chargers begin rounding up the scooters around sunset each evening so that they can be charged overnight. Ethan May, Indianapolis Star, "Here's what you need to know about Bird electric scooters," 21 June 2018 While his teammates would refuel at lunch, Maamria was unable to have anything to eat or drink until sunset. Matias Grez, CNN, "Ramadan: How will fasting for a month affect World Cup stars?," 14 June 2018 Mr Trudeau cancelled a meeting with Mr Trump last month because the Americans made acceptance of a sunset clause a precondition. The Economist, "Donald Trump stomps on Canada’s economy," 14 June 2018 Coming to a consensus on revisions to the two-decade-old trade deal has proved challenging, with Trump demanding any new agreement include a sunset clause. Reade Pickert,, "Canadian Minister Says Nafta Talks Will Continue Through Summer," 14 June 2018 For tourists and expats in Dubai during Ramadan, that means no longer having to wait until sunset to get a beer in a bar. Nicolas Parasie, WSJ, "Beers at Ramadan: Dubai Relaxes Rules as Gulf Countries Adapt to Draw Business," 11 June 2018 Moreover, complex technological projects require significant funding that often comes with a sunset clause: Time-lapse photography and remote sensors aren’t nearly as cheap—or as dependable—as a few dozen volunteers armed with measuring tapes. The Atlantic, "The Icelandic Families Tracking Climate Change With Measuring Tape," 6 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.

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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

21 Sep 2018

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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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).


a magnificent or impressive array

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