[suhn-dahy-uh l, -dahyl]


an instrument that indicates the time of day by means of the position, on a graduated plate or surface, of the shadow of the gnomon as it is cast by the sun.

Origin of sundial

First recorded in 1570–80; sun + dial Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sundial

Contemporary Examples of sundial

Historical Examples of sundial

  • A white figure had turned the road by the sundial, and was coming on with the step of a greyhound.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • Past the sundial ran the girl, and around to the rear of the house.

    Janet of the Dunes

    Harriet T. Comstock

  • You dwell upon the sundial; you mention for a second time the Adams fireplace.

    They and I

    Jerome K. Jerome

  • At the head of the walk was a sundial, and at the further end a fountain.

    Peak's Island

    Ford Paul

  • Moreover, a sundial, to be of practical value, had to be kept steady.

British Dictionary definitions for sundial



a device indicating the time during the hours of sunlight by means of a stationary arm (the gnomon) that casts a shadow onto a plate or surface marked in hours
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 sundial

1590s, from sun (n.) + dial (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper