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[thee-od-l-ahyt] /θiˈɒd lˌaɪt/
Surveying. a precision instrument having a telescopic sight for establishing horizontal and sometimes vertical angles.
Compare transit (def 6).
1565-75; < New Latin theodolitus < ?
Related forms
[thee-od-l-it-ik] /θiˌɒd lˈɪt ɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for theodolite
  • The methods available for tracking balloons in upper wind measurement can be divided into optical-theodolite and radio methods.
  • It is a relatively small, yet rugged theodolite that could take observations both during the day and at night.
  • There was good agreement between the theodolite-derived surface measurements and the holography-derived surface.
  • Care should be taken to achieve precise and accurate data when using theodolite equipment.
  • Dolphin movement patterns: information from radio and theodolite tracking studies pp.
  • Four or more theodolite heads would be optimum for cryostat positioning in the tunnel.
  • In the illustration, the figure on the left uses an ancestor of the theodolite to sight on a rod and measure angles.
  • We recorded the locations of all finds using a total-station laser theodolite.
British Dictionary definitions for theodolite


a surveying instrument for measuring horizontal and vertical angles, consisting of a small tripod-mounted telescope that is free to move in both the horizontal and vertical planes Also called (in the US and Canada) transit
Derived Forms
theodolitic (θɪˌɒdəˈlɪtɪk) adjective
Word Origin
C16: from New Latin theodolitus, of uncertain origin
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 theodolite

1570s, of unknown origin (see OED for discussion).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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theodolite in Science
An optical instrument used to measure angles in surveying, meteorology, and navigation. In meteorology, it is used to track the motion of a weather balloon by measuring its elevation and azimuth angle. The earliest theodolite consisted of a small mounted telescope that rotated horizontally and vertically; modern versions are sophisticated computerized devices, capable of tracking weather balloons, airplanes, and other moving objects, at distances of up to 20,000 m (65,600 ft).
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for theodolite

basic surveying instrument of unknown origin but going back to the 16th-century English mathematician Leonard Digges; it is used to measure horizontal and vertical angles. In its modern form it consists of a telescope mounted to swivel both horizontally and vertically. Leveling is accomplished with the aid of a spirit level; crosshairs in the telescope permit accurate alignment with the object sighted. After the telescope is adjusted precisely, the two accompanying scales, vertical and horizontal, are read

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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