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

  • n. An optical instrument consisting of a small mounted telescope rotatable in horizontal and vertical planes, used to measure angles in surveying, meteorology, and navigation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A surveying instrument, consisting of a small mounted telescope, used to measure horizontal and vertical angles.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An instrument used, especially in trigonometrical surveying, for the accurate measurement of horizontal angles, and also usually of vertical angles. It is variously constructed.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A surveying-instrument for measuring horizontal angles upon a graduated circle.

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

  • n. a surveying instrument for measuring horizontal and vertical angles, consisting of a small telescope mounted on a tripod


New Latin theodolitus, theodelitus.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
New Latin theodolitus, of unknown origin (Wiktionary)



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  • Century Dictionary, Vol. VIII, Page 6273, Theodicaea to Theologue

    October 14, 2011

  • Holy cow.

    July 25, 2011

  • Whilst the layer of oil may well be exceedingly or exceptionally thin, I hope it isn't, as the definition states, excessively so.

    July 20, 2011

  • My favorite part is the conical bearing of Gamhey.

    July 20, 2011

  • The parenthetical snark about "some geodesists" is pure joy.

    July 20, 2011

  • Of all the Century's definitions, I think I love this one the most.

    July 20, 2011

  • "... a mathematical instrument generally useful, and particularly so to engineers and artillerists, in surveying and taking heights and distances."
    Falconer's New Universal Dictionary of the Marine (1816), 553

    October 12, 2008

  • That's a fine enough book review for me! :-)

    September 11, 2008

  • No, but looked it up on Amazon just now. Have you read it?

    September 11, 2008

  • I don't know much about this kind of books, but do you know "No Bone Unturned"?

    September 11, 2008

  • I liked it. It's old, though, and now I'm interested to find a similar book that's more up-to-date, so I can see if there have been any new discoveries in these particular cases since publication. For some (e.g. cholera, Robert the Bruce), probably not. But yes, it's well written and interesting.

    I suck at book reviews.

    September 11, 2008

  • Sounds like a great book, c_b. Would you recommend it?

    September 11, 2008

  • “The astonishing fact was that Mawson had taken forty-six days to drive himself on foot nearly 300 miles through the worst wilderness known to man, navigating by means of a damaged theodolite balanced on the corner of the cooker box, a compass rendered unreliable by the proximity of the South Magnetic Pole and a watch which had stopped at least two or three times. Though he kept a careful tally of his estimates for his daily marches, he had been reckoning progress by a sledge cyclometer that repeatedly jammed and broke. Yet here he was returning to base within 300 yards of his predicted line of travel.�?
    —Michael Howell and Peter Ford, The Ghost Disease, and Twelve Other Stories of Detective Work in the Medical Field, (New York: Penguin Books, 1985), 328

    September 11, 2008