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[sen-tn-l] /ˈsɛn tn l/
a person or thing that watches or stands as if watching.
a soldier stationed as a guard to challenge all comers and prevent a surprise attack:
to stand sentinel.
Digital Technology. tag1 (def 9a).
verb (used with object), sentineled, sentineling or (especially British) sentinelled, sentinelling.
to watch over or guard as a sentinel.
Origin of sentinel
1570-80; < Middle French sentinelle < Italian sentinella, derivative of Old Italian sentina vigilance (Latin sent(īre) to observe) + -īna -ine2)
Related forms
sentinellike, adjective
sentinelship, noun
unsentineled, adjective
unsentinelled, adjective
1, 2. sentry, guard, watch, lookout. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for sentinel
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The sentinel challenged, and Silent went forward and gave the countersign.

  • It was as natural a part of the landscape as the sentinel cactus.

    Still Jim Honor Willsie Morrow
  • Might it be a sentinel at the castle who was ordered to go about?

    Maezli Johanna Spyri
  • Then suddenly the sentinel on the stairs fell down and we ran out.

    Lorraine Robert W. Chambers
  • Have you read the editorials in the Winchester Courier or the morning sentinel on this case?

British Dictionary definitions for sentinel


a person, such as a sentry, assigned to keep guard
(computing) a character used to indicate the beginning or end of a particular block of information
verb (transitive) -nels, -nelling, -nelled
to guard as a sentinel
to post as a sentinel
to provide with a sentinel
Word Origin
C16: from Old French sentinelle, from Old Italian sentinella, from sentina watchfulness, from sentire to notice, from Latin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for sentinel

1570s, from Middle French sentinelle (16c.), from Italian sentinella "a sentinel." OED says "No convincing etymology of the It. word has been proposed," but perhaps (via a notion of "perceive, watch"), from sentire "to hear," from Latin sentire "feel, perceive by the senses" (see sense (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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