[ 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

the·od·o·lit·ic [thee-od-l-it-ik] /θiˌɒd lˈɪt ɪk/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for theodolite

British Dictionary definitions for theodolite


/ (θɪˈɒdəˌlaɪt) /


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 planesAlso called (in the US and Canada): transit

Derived Forms

theodolitic (θɪˌɒdəˈlɪtɪk), adjective

Word Origin for theodolite

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

Science definitions for theodolite


[ thē-ŏdl-īt′ ]

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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.