Dictionary.com

summer solstice

Save This Word!

noun Astronomy.
the solstice on or about June 21st that marks the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
QUIZ
ARE YOU A TRUE BLUE CHAMPION OF THESE "BLUE" SYNONYMS?
We could talk until we're blue in the face about this quiz on words for the color "blue," but we think you should take the quiz and find out if you're a whiz at these colorful terms.
Question 1 of 8
Which of the following words describes “sky blue”?
Meet Grammar CoachWrite or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar helpImprove Your Writing
Meet Grammar CoachImprove Your Writing
Write or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar help

Origin of summer solstice

First recorded in 1540–50
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

MORE ABOUT SUMMER SOLSTICE

What and when is the summer solstice?

The summer solstice is the moment in the year when Earth is tilted as close to the sun as it will be all year. The summer solstice results in the longest day of the year, meaning it has the most time of daylight.

The winter solstice is the moment in the year when Earth is tilted as far away from the sun as it will be all year. The winter solstice results in the shortest day of the year, meaning it has the longest period of darkness.

One solstice occurs around June 20–22 (usually June 20 or 21) and one occurs around December 20–23 (usually December 21 or 22).

The solstices are traditionally considered to mark the start of summer and winter. But which season begins with each solstice depends on which hemisphere you’re in. In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice occurs in June and the winter solstice occurs in December. In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the opposite.

In contrast, an equinox is one of the two times of the year when the amount of daylight and nighttime hours are just about of equal length. The two equinoxes occur around March 20–21 and September 22–23. In the Northern Hemisphere, the vernal equinox (or spring equinox) occurs in March and the autumnal equinox occurs in September. In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the opposite.

The summer solstice is sometimes called midsummer.

Example: Many ancient cultures marked the summer solstice with festivals, some of which continue to be observed today.

Where does summer solstice come from?

The first records of the term summer solstice come from around the 1500s. Solstice is recorded earlier, in the 1200s, and ultimately derives from the Latin sōlstitium, which comes from the parts sōl, “sun,” and sistere, “to stand still.” This means that sōlstitium literally translates to something like “the standing still of the sun.”

During a solstice, it looks like the sun stands still. Of course, the sun doesn’t actually move in the way it appears to move when it rises, sets, or moves across the sky during the day—this is all due to the motion of Earth. A solstice is really the moment when Earth is tilted as far away from or as close to the sun as it will be all year. This makes the sun appear to be at its farthest northern or southern position relative to Earth—appearing to be directly above either the tropic of Cancer or the tropic of Capricorn.

During the summer solstice, Earth is tilted toward the sun and receives sunlight for the longest time, resulting in the longest day of the year. During the winter solstice, Earth is tilted away from the sun and receives sunlight for the shortest time, resulting in the shortest day of the year. After the winter solstice, the days start getting longer (receiving more daylight hours). After the summer solstice, the days start getting shorter (receiving less daylight hours).

Technically speaking, a solstice is a moment, not an entire day. Since Earth is in motion, the exact positioning considered a solstice only happens for a moment. However, the word is most commonly used to refer to the day on which this happens. On most calendars, these days are used to mark the beginning of summer and winter similar to how the days of the two equinoxes are used to mark the beginning of spring and fall.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to summer solstice?

What are some words that share a root or word element with summer solstice

What are some words that often get used in discussing summer solstice?

How is summer solstice used in real life?

The summer solstice is most commonly observed as the longest day of the year and a way to mark the changing of spring to summer.

 

 

Try using summer solstice!

True or False?

The summer solstice happens on the same day in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

How to use summer solstice in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for summer solstice

summer solstice

noun
the time at which the sun is at its northernmost point in the sky (southernmost point in the S hemisphere), appearing at noon at its highest altitude above the horizon. It occurs about June 21 (December 22 in the S hemisphere)
astronomy the point on the celestial sphere, opposite the winter solstice, at which the ecliptic is furthest north from the celestial equator. Right ascension: 6 hours; declination: 23.5°
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 summer solstice

summer solstice
[ sŭmər ]

See under solstice.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
FEEDBACK