1. a plate, disk, face, or other surface containing markings or figures upon which the time of day is indicated by hands, pointers, or shadows, as of a clock or sundial.
  2. a plate or disk with markings or figures for indicating or registering some measurement or number, as of pressure, number of revolutions, the frequency to which a radio is tuned, etc., usually by means of a pointer.
  3. a rotatable plate, disk, or knob used for regulating a mechanism, making and breaking electrical connections, etc., as in tuning a radio or television station in or out.
  4. Also called rotary dial. a rotatable plate or disk on a telephone, fitted with finger holes that are marked with letters or numbers, used in making calls through an automatic switchboard.
  5. any mechanism on the face of a telephone by which the caller places a call, as push buttons.
  6. Also called miner’s dial. Mining. a compass used for underground surveying.

verb (used with object), di·aled, di·al·ing or (especially British) di·alled, di·al·ling.

  1. to indicate or register on or as if on a dial.
  2. to measure with or as if with a dial.
  3. to regulate, select, or tune in by means of a dial, as on a radio: to dial my favorite program.
  4. to make a telephone call to: Dial me at home.

verb (used without object), di·aled, di·al·ing or (especially British) di·alled, di·al·ling.

  1. to use a telephone dial; to dial a telephone: I keep dialing, but the line seems dead.
  2. to tune in or regulate by means of a dial: to dial into the opera broadcast.


  1. (of a telephone) having a rotary dial mechanism.

Verb Phrases

  1. dial up, to obtain, reach, or contact by telephone: to dial up stock-market information; to dial up Chicago and do some business.


  1. the face of a watch, clock, chronometer, sundial, etc, marked with divisions representing units of time
  2. the circular graduated disc of various measuring instruments
    1. the control on a radio or television set used to change the station or channel
    2. the panel on a radio on which the frequency, wavelength, or station is indicated by means of a pointer
  3. a numbered disc on a telephone that is rotated a set distance for each digit of a number being called
  4. a miner’s compass for surveying in a mine
  5. British a slang word for face (def. 1)

verb dials, dialling or dialled or US dials, dialing or dialed

  1. to establish or try to establish a telephone connection with (a subscriber or his number) by operating the dial on a telephone
  2. (tr) to indicate, measure, or operate with a dial

1650s, “to work with aid of a dial or compass,” from dial (n.). Telephone sense is from 1923. Related: Dialed; dialing.


early 15c., “sundial,” earlier “dial of a compass” (mid-14c.), apparently from Medieval Latin dialis “daily,” from Latin dies “day” (see diurnal).

The word perhaps was abstracted from a phrase such as Medieval Latin rota dialis “daily wheel,” and evolved to mean any round plate over which something rotates. Telephone sense is from 1879, which led to dial tone (1921), “the signal to begin dialing,” which term soon might be the sole relic of the rotary phone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

49 queries 0.447