the·​od·​o·​lite thē-ˈä-də-ˌlīt How to pronounce theodolite (audio)
: a surveyor's instrument for measuring horizontal and usually also vertical angles

Examples of theodolite in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Lyra used a state-of-the-art theodolite, a precision instrument that computes angles in both the horizontal and vertical planes, and Rondon had a compass and a barometer to gauge the river’s altitude above sea level. Larry Rohter, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 Apr. 2023 When Romero leaned away from the screen, one eyebrow drifting upward, Sanchez scrolled down the webpage and began circling his mouse over a picture of a construction worker in an orange vest peering into a theodolite, an instrument surveyors use to measure angles. Washington Post, 11 Apr. 2021 The theodolite is used to measure angles and geographical locations for missile launchers. Ryan King, Washington Examiner, 4 Jan. 2023 Manual measurements using a device called a theodolite—difficult to use in dark, cramped tunnels—have been replaced by laser scanners, which have improved markedly in the past few decades. WIRED, 17 Jan. 2023 The optical instrument, a theodolite from the Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missile, had been sent to Switzerland to its original supplier for repairs, but the manufacturer then shipped it to its facility in the Chinese city of Qingdao, per the report. Ryan King, Washington Examiner, 4 Jan. 2023 Washburn used a 40-pound surveying instrument called a theodolite to measure the angles between each of the control points, providing him with the relative position and height of each set of points. Frederick Reimers, Outside Online, 26 Feb. 2019 Milazzo would walk out into a field and hold a pole marked with measurements, while his grandfather, Richard Hall, took elevations using an instrument called a theodolite. Tim Diovanni, Dallas News, 16 Mar. 2021 The teams from China and Nepal used everything from old-fashioned trigonometry and surveying equipment like the theodolite, to satellite positioning and gravity meters. Eric Bellman, WSJ, 8 Dec. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'theodolite.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


New Latin theodelitus

First Known Use

1571, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of theodolite was in 1571

Dictionary Entries Near theodolite

Cite this Entry

“Theodolite.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


the·​od·​o·​lite thē-ˈäd-ᵊl-ˌīt How to pronounce theodolite (audio)
: a very precise surveyor's transit

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