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[suhn-spot] /ˈsʌnˌspɒt/
one of the relatively dark patches that appear periodically on the surface of the sun and affect terrestrial magnetism and certain other terrestrial phenomena.
Origin of sunspot
First recorded in 1805-15; sun + spot
Related forms
sunspotted, adjective
sunspottedness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sunspots
Historical Examples
  • That seems to be what happens on a large scale when sunspots are numerous.

    Climatic Changes Ellsworth Huntington
  • As to the number of sunspots, there is little evidence previous to about 1750.

    Climatic Changes Ellsworth Huntington
  • The result of the comparison of earthquakes and sunspots is shown in Table 7.

    Climatic Changes Ellsworth Huntington
  • The official explanation, issued by the stations themselves, was sunspots.

    Earth Alert! Kris Neville
  • In Wympland you get all the advantages of the sun and none of the drawbacks,—no sunblinds or sunstrokes or sunspots!

  • sunspots do not offer us examples of motions of this order of rapidity, but the areas which they affect are not less astonishing.

    Are the Planets Inhabited? E. Walter Maunder
  • It is incredible, however, that this deuced weather should last forever, notwithstanding the sunspots mentioned in the newspapers.

    Letters to an Unknown Prosper Mrime
  • Longer periods of observation will permit comparisons that may yet define concurrent cycles of sunspots and weather.

    Reading the Weather

    Thomas Morris Longstreth
  • For there is a well-marked progression in the zones of sunspots during the eleven-year cycle.

    The Science of the Stars E. Walter Maunder
  • Of course anything is believable when a definite physical connexion has been demonstrated, for example the influence of sunspots.

    The Concept of Nature Alfred North Whitehead
British Dictionary definitions for sunspots


any of the dark cool patches, with a diameter of up to several thousand kilometres, that appear on the surface of the sun and last about a week. They occur in approximately 11-year cycles and possess a strong magnetic field
(informal) a sunny holiday resort
(Austral) a small cancerous spot produced by overexposure to the sun
Derived Forms
sunspotted, adjective
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 sunspots



1868, in astronomy, from sun (n.) + spot (n.). Earlier "a spot on the skin caused by exposure to the sun" (1818).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sunspots in Science
Any of the dark, irregular spots that usually appear in groups on the surface of the Sun (its photosphere), lasting from a few days to several weeks or more. Sunspots appear dark because they are cooler, by up to 1,500°K, than the surrounding photosphere. They are associated with strong magnetic fields and solar magnetic storms moving in a vortex pattern, similar to a tornado on Earth. The number of sunspots waxes and wanes over an 11-year period; at maximum activity there are often increased numbers of solar flares.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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sunspots in Culture

sunspots definition

Dark spots on the surface of the sun caused by magnetic storms.

Note: The number of sunspots goes through a maximum and minimum about every eleven years. During periods of maximum sunspots, the elementary particles associated with the spots cause disturbances in the atmosphere of the Earth and interfere with radio and television communication.
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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