from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A graduated surface or face on which a measurement, such as speed, is indicated by a moving needle or pointer.
  • n. The face of a clock.
  • n. A sundial.
  • n. The panel or face on a radio or television receiver on which the frequencies or channels are indicated.
  • n. A movable control knob or other device on a radio or television receiver used to change the frequency.
  • n. A rotatable disk on a telephone with numbers and letters, used to signal the number to which a call is made.
  • transitive v. To measure with or as if with a dial.
  • transitive v. To point to, indicate, or register by means of a dial.
  • transitive v. To control or select by means of a dial: dial a radio station.
  • transitive v. To call (a party) on a telephone.
  • transitive v. To signal (a number) in making a telephone call: The program dials the number and then connects to the file server.
  • intransitive v. To use a dial.
  • intransitive v. To use a telephone.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A graduated, circular scale over which a needle moves to show a measurement (such as speed).
  • n. A clock face.
  • n. A sundial.
  • n. A panel on a radio etc showing wavelengths or channels; a knob that is turned to change the wavelength etc.
  • n. A disk with finger holes on a telephone; used to select the number to be called.
  • n. A person's face.
  • v. To measure or indicate something with a dial.
  • v. To control or select something with a dial
  • v. To select a number, or to call someone, on a telephone.
  • v. To use a dial or a telephone.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An instrument, formerly much used for showing the time of day from the shadow of a style or gnomon on a graduated arc or surface; esp., a sundial; but there are lunar and astral dials. The style or gnomon is usually parallel to the earth's axis, but the dial plate may be either horizontal or vertical.
  • n. The graduated face of a timepiece, on which the time of day is shown by pointers or hands.
  • n. A miner's compass.
  • transitive v. To measure with a dial.
  • transitive v. To survey with a dial.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To measure with or as if with a dial; indicate upon or as if upon a dial.
  • In mining, to survey with the aid of the dial or miners' compass, as a mine or underground workings.
  • n. An instrument for indicating the hour of the day by means of a shadow thrown upon a graduated surface. For dials with a style or gnomon, see sun-dial; for portable dials, see ring-dial, poke-dial, and solarium.
  • n. The face of a clock or watch, upon which the hours and minutes are marked, and over which the hands move.
  • n. Hence A timepiece of any kind; a clock or watch.
  • n. Any plate or face on which a pointer or an index moves, marking revolutions, pressure, etc., according to the nature of the machinery of which it forms part: as, the dial of a steamgage, gas-meter, or telegraphic instrument.
  • n. In telegraphy and horology, an insulated stationary wheel exhibiting upon its face letters, numerals, or other characters.
  • n. The lettered or numbered face-plate of a permutation-lock.
  • n. A mariners' compass.
  • n. In mining, a compass or graduated circle with a magnetic needle, arranged for underground surveying where great accuracy is not required. [Eng.]
  • n. A lapidaries' instrument for holding a gem while it is being cut. It carries the dot to which the gem is directly fixed.
  • n. The commercial name for the best grade of kaurigum.
  • n. An abbreviation of dialect
  • n. of dialectal, dialectic, or dialectical.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the circular graduated indicator on various measuring instruments
  • n. a disc on a telephone that is rotated a fixed distance for each number called
  • v. operate a dial to select a telephone number
  • n. the control on a radio or television set that is used for tuning
  • v. choose by means of a dial
  • n. the face of a timepiece; graduated to show the hours


Middle English, sundial, clock, from Old French dyal, from Medieval Latin diāle, from neuter of diālis, daily, from Latin diēs, day.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Its original meaning was 'sundial' and/or 'clock dial', from Latin diālis ("daily, concerning the day"), because of its use in telling the time of day. (Wiktionary)


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