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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).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈdaɪ.əɫ/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈdaɪ.əl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪəl
  • Hyphenation: di‧al


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).
    The dial on the dashboard showed the car was nearly out of gas.
  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.
    Turn the dial to Radio 4: my favourite show is on!
  5. A disk with finger holes on a telephone; used to select the number to be called.
    His hands were too fat to operate the dial on the telephone.
  6. (UK, Australia, slang) A person's face. [from 19th c.]
    • 1960, P[elham] G[renville] Wodehouse, chapter 9, in Jeeves in the Offing, London: Herbert Jenkins, OCLC 1227855:
      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.
    • 2006, Alexis Wright, Carpentaria, Giramondo 2012, p. 137:
      Old Mona Lisa would have looked like a sour lemon beside Angel Day on the rare days she put a smile on her dial, laughing with her friends when some new man was in town.
  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 control or select something with a dial, or (figuratively) as if with a dial.
    The president has recently dialled down the rhetoric.
  2. (transitive) To select a number, or to call someone, on a telephone.
    In an emergency dial 999.
  3. (intransitive) To use a dial or a telephone.
    Please be careful when dialling.

Usage notes[edit]

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

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]





dial m (plural diales)

  1. dial

Further reading[edit]



From Middle Welsh dial, from Old Welsh digal, from Proto-Brythonic *diɣal, from Proto-Celtic *dī-galā. 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.

Further reading[edit]

  • R. J. Thomas, G. A. Bevan, P. J. Donovan, A. Hawke et al., editors (1950–present), “dial”, in Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru Online (in Welsh), University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh & Celtic Studies