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

n the circular graduated indicator on various measuring instruments

Type of:
a device for showing the operating condition of some system

n the face of a timepiece; graduated to show the hours

Type of:
the side upon which the use of a thing depends (usually the most prominent surface of an object)

n the control on a radio or television set that is used for tuning

Type of:
control, controller
a mechanism that controls the operation of a machine

n a disc on a telephone that is rotated a fixed distance for each number called

telephone dial
Type of:
selector, selector switch
a switch that is used to select among alternatives

v choose by means of a dial

dial a telephone number”
Type of:
choose, pick out, select, take
pick out, select, or choose from a number of alternatives

v operate a dial to select a telephone number

“You must take the receiver off the hook before you dial
Type of:
control, operate
handle and cause to function

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