See more synonyms for dot on
  1. a small, roundish mark made with or as if with a pen.
  2. a minute or small spot on a surface; speck: There were dots of soot on the window sill.
  3. anything relatively small or specklike.
  4. a small specimen, section, amount, or portion: a dot of butter.
  5. a period, especially as used when pronouncing an Internet address.
  6. Music.
    1. a point placed after a note or rest, to indicate that the duration of the note or rest is to be increased one half. A double dot further increases the duration by one half the value of the single dot.
    2. a point placed under or over a note to indicate that it is to be played staccato.
  7. Telegraphy. a signal of shorter duration than a dash, used in groups along with groups of dashes and spaces to represent letters, as in Morse code.
  8. Printing. an individual element in a halftone reproduction.
verb (used with object), dot·ted, dot·ting.
  1. to mark with or as if with a dot or dots.
  2. to stud or diversify with or as if with dots: Trees dot the landscape.
  3. to form or cover with dots: He dotted a line across the page.
  4. Cookery. to sprinkle with dabs of butter, margarine, or the like: Dot the filling with butter.
verb (used without object), dot·ted, dot·ting.
  1. to make a dot or dots.
  1. dot one's i's and cross one's t's, to be meticulous or precise, even to the smallest detail.
  2. on the dot, Informal. precisely; exactly at the time specified: The guests arrived at eight o'clock on the dot.
  3. the year dot, British Informal. very long ago.

Origin of dot

before 1000; perhaps to be identified with Old English dott head of a boil, though not attested in Middle English; cf. dottle, dit, derivative of Old English dyttan to stop up (probably derivative of dott); cognate with Old High German tutta nipple
Related formsdot·like, adjectivedot·ter, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for on the dot


  1. a small round mark made with or as with a pen, etc; spot; speck; point
  2. anything resembling a dot; a small amounta dot of paint
  3. the mark (˙) that appears above the main stem of the letters i, j
  4. music
    1. the symbol (·) placed after a note or rest to increase its time value by half
    2. this symbol written above or below a note indicating that it must be played or sung staccato
  5. maths logic
    1. the symbol (.) indicating multiplication or logical conjunction
    2. a decimal point
  6. the symbol (·) used, in combination with the symbol for dash (–), in the written representation of Morse and other telegraphic codesCompare dit
  7. the year dot informal as long ago as can be remembered
  8. on the dot at exactly the arranged time
verb dots, dotting or dotted
  1. (tr) to mark or form with a dotto dot a letter; a dotted crotchet
  2. (tr) to scatter or intersperse (with dots or something resembling dots)bushes dotting the plain
  3. (intr) to make a dot or dots
  4. dot one's i's and cross one's t's to pay meticulous attention to detail
Derived Formsdotter, noun

Word Origin for dot

Old English dott head of a boil; related to Old High German tutta nipple, Norwegian dott, Dutch dott lump


  1. civil law a woman's dowry
Derived Formsdotal (ˈdəʊtəl), adjective

Word Origin for dot

C19: from French, from Latin dōs; related to dōtāre to endow, dāre to give
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

Word Origin and History for on the dot



Old English dott "speck, head of a boil," perhaps related to Norwegian dot "lump, small knot," Dutch dot "knot, small bunch, wisp," Old High German tutta "nipple;" ultimate origin unclear.

Known from a single source c.1000; the word reappeared with modern meaning "mark" c.1530; not common until 18c. Morse telegraph sense is from 1838. On the dot "punctual" is 1909, in reference to a clock dial face. Dot-matrix first attested 1975.



1740, from dot (n.). Related: Dotted; dotting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

on the dot in Medicine


  1. A tiny round mark made by or as if by a pointed instrument; a spot.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

on the dot in Science


  1. A symbol (·) indicating multiplication, as in 2 · 4 = 8. It is used to indicate the dot product of vectors, for example A · B.
  2. A period, as used as in URLs and e-mail addresses, to separate strings of words, as in
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with on the dot

on the dot

Exactly on time, as in We had to be there at eight on the dot. The dot in this idiom is the mark appearing on the face of a watch or clock indicating the time in question. It may come from the earlier to a dot, meaning “exactly” since the early 1700s but no longer heard today. [c. 1900] Also see on the button.


In addition to the idiom beginning with dot

  • dot the i's and cross the t's

also see:

  • on the dot
  • sign on the dotted line
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.