Surveying. a precision instrument having a telescopic sight for establishing horizontal and sometimes vertical angles. Compare transit ( def 6 ).

1565–75; < Neo-Latin theodolitus < ?

theodolitic [thee-od-l-it-ik] , adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
theodolite (θɪˈɒdəˌlaɪt)
Also called (in the US and Canada): transit 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
[C16: from New Latin theodolitus, of uncertain origin]

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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
theodolite   (thē-ŏd'l-īt')  Pronunciation Key 
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).
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Encyclopedia Britannica


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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Example sentences
The methods available for tracking balloons in upper wind measurement can be divided into optical-theodolite and radio methods.
There was good agreement between the theodolite-derived surface measurements and the holography-derived surface.
It is a relatively small, yet rugged theodolite that could take observations
  both during the day and at night.
Dolphin movement patterns: information from radio and theodolite tracking
  studies pp.
Images for theodolite
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