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[sol-stis, sohl-] /ˈsɒl stɪs, ˈsoʊl-/
  1. either of the two times a year when the sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator: about June 21, when the sun reaches its northernmost point on the celestial sphere, or about December 22, when it reaches its southernmost point.
  2. either of the two points in the ecliptic farthest from the equator.
a furthest or culminating point; a turning point.
Origin of solstice
1200-50; < Middle English < Old French < Latin sōlstitium, equivalent to sōl sun + -stit-, combining form of stat-, variant stem of sistere to make stand (see stand) + -ium -ium; see -ice) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for solstice
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • For a few moments the sun stands at the summer solstice—its highest point.

    The Quest Frederik van Eeden
  • The time of their incursion is from the summer solstice to the middle of winter.

  • As early as the winter solstice the cold began to make itself felt.

    Everyday Objects W. H. Davenport Adams
  • They ripen in autumn and sometimes last almost to the winter solstice.

    The Pears of New York U. P. Hedrick
  • They ripen at the beginning of autumn, and last till after the solstice.

    The Pears of New York U. P. Hedrick
British Dictionary definitions for solstice


either the shortest day of the year (winter solstice) or the longest day of the year (summer solstice)
either of the two points on the ecliptic at which the sun is overhead at the tropic of Cancer or Capricorn at the summer and winter solstices
Derived Forms
solstitial (sɒlˈstɪʃəl) adjective
Word Origin
C13: via Old French from Latin sōlstitium, literally: the (apparent) standing still of the sun, from sōl sun + sistere to stand still
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 solstice

mid-13c., from Old French solstice (13c.), from Latin solstitium "point at which the sun seems to stand still," especially the summer solstice, from sol "sun" (see sol) + past participle stem of sistere "to come to a stop, make stand still" (see assist (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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solstice in Science
  (sŏl'stĭs, sōl'-)   
  1. Either of the two points on the celestial sphere where the ecliptic (the apparent path of the Sun) reaches its greatest distance north or south of the celestial equator. ◇ The northernmost point of the Sun's path, called the summer solstice, lies on the Tropic of Cancer at 23°27' north latitude. ◇ The southernmost point of the Sun's path, called the winter solstice, lies on the Tropic of Capricorn at 23°27' south latitude.

  2. Either of the two corresponding moments of the year when the Sun is directly above either the Tropic of Cancer or the Tropic of Capricorn. The summer solstice occurs on June 20 or 21 and the winter solstice on December 21 or 22, marking the beginning of summer and winter in the Northern Hemisphere (and the reverse in the Southern Hemisphere). The days on which a solstice falls have the greatest difference of the year between the hours of daylight and darkness, with the most daylight hours at the beginning of summer and the most darkness at the beginning of winter. Compare equinox.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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solstice in Culture
solstice [(sol-stuhs, sohl-stuhs)]

The two occasions each year when the position of the sun at a given time of day does not seem to change direction. In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice occurs around June 21 and is the longest day of the year. The sun stops getting higher in the sky, and the days begin to grow shorter. The winter solstice, which occurs around December 21, is the shortest day. The sun stops getting lower in the sky, and the days begin to grow longer.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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