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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).
Origin of theodolite
First recorded in 1565-75, theodolite is from the New Latin word theodolitus < ?
Related forms
[thee-od-l-it-ik] /θiˌɒd lˈɪt ɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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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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