Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Dial and dial.


Detail of a dial (graduated circular scale with a needle)


The original meaning was 'sundial' and/or 'clock dial'; from Middle English diall, from Middle French dyal, from Latin diālis (daily, concerning the day), because of its use in telling the time of day, from Latin diēs (day). Compare Spanish dial and día (day).



dial (plural dials)

A dial (disk with finger holes) on a Swiss telephone
  1. A graduated, circular scale over which a needle moves to show a measurement (such as speed).
  2. A clock face.
  3. A sundial.
  4. A panel on a radio etc showing wavelengths or channels; a knob that is turned to change the wavelength etc.
  5. A disk with finger holes on a telephone; used to select the number to be called.
  6. (Britain, dated) A person's face.
    • 1960: At the sound of the old familiar voice he spun around with something of the agility of a cat on hot bricks, and I saw that his dial, usually cheerful, was contorted with anguish, as if he had swallowed a bad oyster. (P. G. Wodehouse, Jeeves in the Offing, chapter IX)
  7. A miner's compass.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


dial (third-person singular simple present dials, present participle (US) dialing or dialling, simple past and past participle (US) dialed or dialled)

  1. (transitive) To measure or indicate something with a dial.
  2. (transitive) To control or select something with a dial, or (figuratively) as if with a dial.
    President Trump has recently dialled down the rhetoric.
  3. (transitive) To select a number, or to call someone, on a telephone.
    In an emergency dial 999.
  4. (intransitive) To use a dial or a telephone.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Dialing and dialed are more common in the US. Dialling and dialled are more common in the UK.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]





dial m (plural diales)

  1. dial



Cognate with Cornish dyal and Old Irish dígal.



dial m (plural dialau or dialon)

  1. revenge


Welsh mutation
radical soft nasal aspirate
dial ddial nial unchanged
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every
possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.


  • dial”, in Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru Online (in Welsh), University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh & Celtic Studies, 2014