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[suhn-dahy-uh l, -dahyl] /ˈsʌnˌdaɪ əl, -ˌdaɪl/
an instrument that indicates the time of day by means of the position, on a graduated plate or surface, of the shadow of the gnomon as it is cast by the sun.
Origin of sundial
1570-80; sun + dial Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for sundial
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It lay upon her soul like the shadow on the sundial, and time was measured by it.

  • You dwell upon the sundial; you mention for a second time the Adams fireplace.

    They and I Jerome K. Jerome
  • One had an intihuatana, or sundial nubbin, on it; another was carved in the shape of a saddle.

    Inca Land Hiram Bingham
  • At the head of the walk was a sundial, and at the further end a fountain.

    Peak's Island Ford Paul
  • The shadow of the sundial fell between us; the garden was still; here and there a leaf fluttered slowly down.

    Under the Red Robe Stanley Weyman
  • A white figure had turned the road by the sundial, and was coming on with the step of a greyhound.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • The girls watched breathlessly as he walked slowly into the garden, pausing a short distance from the sundial.

    The Secret of the Sundial Mildred A. Wirt, AKA Ann Wirt
  • The story is related in the third volume of this series, “The Secret of the sundial.”

    The Deserted Yacht Mildred A. Wirt, AKA Ann Wirt
  • In 1635 the upper part was removed by the rector, in order that the portion remaining might be converted into a sundial.

British Dictionary definitions for sundial


a device indicating the time during the hours of sunlight by means of a stationary arm (the gnomon) that casts a shadow onto a plate or surface marked in hours
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 sundial

1590s, from sun (n.) + dial (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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