Dictionary.com

sextant

[ sek-stuhnt ]
/ ˈsɛk stənt /
Save This Word!

noun
an astronomical instrument used to determine latitude and longitude at sea by measuring angular distances, especially the altitudes of sun, moon, and stars.
Sextant, Astronomy. the constellation Sextans.
QUIZ
SHALL WE PLAY A "SHALL" VS. "SHOULD" CHALLENGE?
Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

Origin of sextant

First recorded in 1590–1600; from Latin sextant- (stem of sextāns ) sixth part of a unit; see sext1, -ant

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH sextant

sextant , sextet, sexton
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use sextant in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sextant

sextant
/ (ˈsɛkstənt) /

noun
an optical instrument used in navigation and consisting of a telescope through which a sighting of a heavenly body is taken, with protractors for determining its angular distance above the horizon or from another heavenly body
a sixth part of a circle having an arc which subtends an angle of 60°

Word Origin for sextant

C17: from Latin sextāns one sixth of a unit
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

Scientific definitions for sextant

sextant
[ sĕkstənt ]

An instrument containing a graduated 60° arc and a movable pivoted arm corresponding to the radius of the arc's circle, used in celestial navigation to measure the altitude of a celestial body in order to determine the observer's latitude and longitude. A horizontally mounted telescope and two small mirrors are arranged so that the observer can, by moving the pivoted arm, sight the horizon and the reflected image of the celestial body in the same line, giving a reading along the arc that is used to look up the observer's position in a published table.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
FEEDBACK