A dial is a circle that has a series of numbers or marks representing numbers, like the dial of a clock face, a compass, or an old-fashioned telephone. If you have a watch that glows in the dark, it's the dial you can see even in a dark movie theater.

Old telephones and televisions both have dials — the first has numbers from zero to nine in a circle, and the latter has a round disc for changing channels. When you call someone, you can say that you dial their number. In fact, people tend to use the word dial when they use a phone, even if they're pushing buttons or tapping a touch screen. The Latin root is dialis, "daily," and the earliest dial was a sundial.

Definitions of dial
  1. noun
    the circular graduated indicator on various measuring instruments
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    type of:
    a device for showing the operating condition of some system
  2. noun
    the face of a timepiece; graduated to show the hours
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    type of:
    the side upon which the use of a thing depends (usually the most prominent surface of an object)
  3. noun
    the control on a radio or television set that is used for tuning
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    type of:
    control, controller
    a mechanism that controls the operation of a machine
  4. noun
    a disc on a telephone that is rotated a fixed distance for each number called
    synonyms: telephone dial
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    type of:
    selector, selector switch
    a switch that is used to select among alternatives
  5. verb
    choose by means of a dial
    dial a telephone number”
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    type of:
    choose, pick out, select, take
    pick out, select, or choose from a number of alternatives
  6. verb
    operate a dial to select a telephone number
    “You must take the receiver off the hook before you dial
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    type of:
    control, operate
    handle and cause to function
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