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The original meaning was 'sundial' and/or 'clock dial'; from Middle English diall, from Middle French dyal, from Latin di?lis (“daily, concerning the day”), because of its use in telling the time of day, from Latin di?s (“day”). Compare Spanish dial and día (“day”).
dial (plural dials)
- A graduated, circular scale over which a needle moves to show a measurement (such as speed).
- A clock face.
- A sundial.
- A panel on a radio etc showing wavelengths or channels; a knob that is turned to change the wavelength etc.
- A disk with finger holes on a telephone; used to select the number to be called.
- (Britain, Australia, slang) A person's face. [from 19th c.]
- A miner's compass.