Definition of dial in English:

dial

noun

  • 1A face of a clock or watch that is marked to show units of time.

    • ‘I showed him my watch, tapped the dial and then turned away again.’
    • ‘Oh, yeah, it has to be an old-fashioned analog watch, with a dial and hands and all those wheels and moving parts inside.’
    • ‘The Octopus watch has been launched, obviously with an octopus on the watch dial.’
    • ‘The dial on your dive watch would send a Geiger counter into cardiac arrest.’
    • ‘When the watch dial is lit, the tick marks appear as lit jewels.’
    • ‘After the evening Bible reading, I was sent to bed with a big old alarm clock having a luminous dial.’
    • ‘Although described as a clock, the time-piece element - the tiny watch dial in the uppermost section - is its least significant feature.’
    • ‘There are watches with big dials displaying the time in different countries, stop-watches for athletes and watches in which one can store telephone numbers.’
    • ‘Bigger dials may be in fashion, but a regular watch with a small dial is the choice of most people.’
    • ‘This luminous paint was applied to watch dials, light switches, and even to the costumes of nightclub dancers.’
    • ‘He glanced at his watch, the glowing dial reading 5pm, Perton time.’
    • ‘Death was looking pretty good, compared to another thirty years painting watch dials.’
    • ‘The lighted dial on his watch showed one-thirty a.m. as they exited the cab back at their apartment building.’
    • ‘Eight-day clocks with painted dials by the Willard family of Roxbury, Massachusetts, have been extensively studied and documented for nearly a century.’
    • ‘They've built a huge uranium processing facility, which they say produces only glow-in-the-dark watch dials.’
    • ‘Logos and brand names are often poorly fixed to the dial of fake watches.’
    • ‘The wooden matches were glued to the dial of the manual kitchen timer.’
    • ‘Winston looked at the tarnished dial of his watch, it was three a. m.’
    • ‘The clock dials overlap one another, making for a very pretty, three-dimensional whirring cog effect.’
    1. 1.1 A flat plate with a scale and pointer for showing measurements of weight, volume, or pressure.
      • ‘The angled analogue dials are a particularly nice touch with white backgrounds to match the speedo and rev counter.’
      • ‘Put on some headphones and twist the volume dial until it distorts beyond recognition.’
      • ‘Let the pressure fall 2 millimeters, or lines on the dial, per second while listening for your heart sounds.’
      • ‘But he could not ignore the air pressure dial as it inched closer to the red.’
      • ‘The mechanism was clearly a type of analog computer, using fixed gear ratios to make calculations displayed as pointer readings on a dial.’
      • ‘The 575M also has a sensor that enables the driver to check tyre pressures in normal day-to-day driving, courtesy of a dial on the console.’
      • ‘The sound annoyed Zack at the time, so he turned the volume dial on the side of it all the way down.’
      • ‘The general opened the steel briefcase to reveal a black control panel, full of dials, indicators and buttons.’
      • ‘At no time was there less than one pair of eyes locked on the bank of monitoring computer screens, dials, charts and print-outs.’
      • ‘When I say fat people I mean people who are so fat that when they stand on the scales they say 25 kg because the dial has gone all the way around about ten times.’
      • ‘I flashed a big smile then grabbed the volume dial and turned it up until it wouldn't go anymore.’
      • ‘Without a regulator it was the engineer's job to monitor the speed of the thing, to keep it steady, also to keep the pressure below that mark on the dial.’
      • ‘Despite all that, this morning I kept the radio on rather than putting on a CD, and I kept the volume control in the bottom area of the dial.’
      • ‘A panel of dials, communications technology and fuel measuring equipment springs to life, beeping and flashing across the cabin.’
      • ‘Next to the headphone port is a handy volume dial.’
      • ‘Most of the children are weighed, the smallest kicking and screaming as they are slipped into bags and suspended from scales, the dial sometimes barely registering their existence.’
      • ‘The old scale was analog, with a dial and a pointer that waggled a bit unless you stood perfectly still.’
      • ‘Shaped like a set of dashboard instruments, the dials show time, temperature and air pressure.’
      • ‘I stood on my new evil scales and the dial screamed 11 stone 7.’
      • ‘He appeared to be in the control booth of some sort of laboratory, and he felt almost at home as he studied the dials and gauges in the panel before him.’
      measuring instrument, measuring device, meter, measure
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A disc with numbered finger holes on a telephone, rotated a particular distance for each digit of the number being called.
      • ‘When Caligari refuses to let Jane retrieve her car the next morning, she tries to call for help, but there's a lock on the telephone dial.’
      • ‘Under lighting restriction orders, a Naval officer at Yarmouth was fined for striking matches in a telephone box to read the dial.’
      • ‘Today, that's like trying to sell rotary dial telephones in Sweden.’
      • ‘They don't even know about rotary dials there yet, forget the cell phone.’
      • ‘In Parts Conversation, several old-fashioned dial telephones are subjected to increasingly severe mutilations.’
      • ‘To be sure, dials and telephones were like new music releases and 45s. Nowadays, it is difficult to find one or the other.’
      • ‘A web browser that uses a rotary phone dial as a custom physical interface.’
      • ‘One shop had a telephone with a dial just like the one I remember us having when I was a kid.’
      • ‘That notion is becoming as quaint as dial telephones.’
      • ‘Each compartment had three telephone dials, one for the units, one for the tens and the other for the hundreds.’
      • ‘His finger swerves over the dial; the telephone is too slow.’
      • ‘He heard more of his mother's footsteps, and the peculiar sound of the phone's rotary dial.’
      • ‘Feeling around the dial, her nimble fingers punched in the buttons, and she bit her lip, hoping that her friend would answer.’
    3. 1.3 A plate or disc turned to select a setting on a radio, cooker, or other piece of equipment.
      • ‘Nadezhda knelt to adjust the tuning dial again, but lost the transmission completely.’
      • ‘Increasingly such shows are available on the cable dial.’
      • ‘In disgust, Amy reaches over and twists the radio dial vigorously.’
      • ‘The fan-speed adjuster was a rotary knob on the old model, while this model has a flat dial.’
      • ‘By rotating the dial, the pivot point or the fulcrum of the brake lever moves in and out.’
      • ‘So saying, he touched the transmit button, and slowly turned the tuning dial.’
      • ‘The oven doesn't work and the numbers on the stove's control dials have been rubbed off, so you're either boiling something or not cooking at all.’
      • ‘The Akasa fan control system has 3 dials for variable speed fan adjustment.’
      • ‘This is a camera where the photographer sees exactly the same image that is exposed to the film and can adjust everything by turning dials and clicking buttons.’
      • ‘Each has a dial on it that you can twist to measure exactly the amount of spice you want, in 1/4 tsp increments.’
      • ‘Next Maddy crossed the room to the light switch and used the dial to dim the lights.’
      • ‘You set a dial and the timer turns off the water at the designated time.’
      • ‘Lacking a tuning dial, they contained individual crystals cut to resonate at specific frequencies.’
      • ‘Starting in September, fans of Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes titles will have to turn their dials to Cartoon Network.’
      • ‘Net radio provides listeners with something that the local FM dial doesn't: a wide variety.’
      • ‘You adjust the dial to a more comfortable setting and go back to your reading.’
      • ‘Turn the film speed dial from the ASA of the film you are using to the next highest film speed.’
      • ‘I rotated the dial to the correct numbers and the locker opened.’
      • ‘Antavas moved another switch and adjusted a dial on the control panel.’
      • ‘The iPod volume/scan controls are done by spinning my finger on the round, flat dial on the face of the iPod.’
    4. 1.4British informal A person's face.
      ‘he must be one of the new batch—I haven't seen his dial before’

verb

[with object]
  • Call (a telephone number) by turning a dial or using a keypad.

    ‘she dialled 999’
    ‘it took only a moment to dial in the numbers’
    no object ‘company employees dial out from their office’
    • ‘I grabbed my phone out of my room and dialed her cell phone but got voicemail immediately.’
    • ‘For travelers who book by phone, an automated telephone system dials the telephone numbers that customers supply with their bookings.’
    • ‘By dialing a special telephone number, they can access their company's corporate network.’
    • ‘The driver can dial telephone numbers directly by voice input or using controls on the steering wheel.’
    • ‘She decided to do what the DJ said, so she got out her cell phone and dialed the radio station.’
    • ‘She pulls out her cellphone, dials, and talks in rapid Russian down the phone.’
    • ‘You can program most cell phones with a particular key that when pressed dials 911 automatically.’
    • ‘She glanced at the phone for a few seconds before actually picking it up and dialling his cell phone.’
    • ‘Emily began poking at the buttons on the keypad, pretending to dial her friend Janey.’
    • ‘It enables PC users to dial land lines and handphones worldwide for a fee.’
    • ‘Much worse, I found that whenever I tried to dial a phone number the device reset itself.’
    • ‘Just stop at any public telephone booth and dial to hear messages from near and far.’
    • ‘As soon as he finds it, he picks up the telephone and dials.’
    • ‘Well, taking his advice, I went home and immediately dialed her telephone number.’
    • ‘His cell-phone automatically dials that bistro's telephone number.’
    • ‘Grabbing the telephone and quickly dialing the phone number, he wondered why he hadn't thought of this sooner.’
    • ‘She pulls her cell phone out and dials Casey's cell.’
    • ‘Reluctantly, I flipped my cell phone open and dialled a familiar number.’
    • ‘She began driving again and pulled out her cell phone, dialling her house.’
    • ‘Just like on an old-fashioned phone, you pickup your telephone and dial the number of the person you wish to contact.’
    telephone, phone, phone up, call, call up
    View synonyms

Phrasal Verbs

  • dial something down

    • 1Adjust the control on an electrical device so as to reduce the level of sound, light, heat, etc. produced.

      ‘after 15 minutes of frustration, someone on the stand took the hint and dialled down the music’
      • ‘The sound mix is quite strong in terms of dialogue and sound effects, but I felt like the music was dialed down a little too low in many scenes.’
      • ‘When we tried to dial down the brightness level, we made an odd discovery.’
      • ‘I hadn't dialed down the exposure enough, so unfortunately I have 100 shots of a overexposed, featureless sun in front of a great desert framing.’
      • ‘Firefighters and other city workers went door to door, asking building managers to dial down the power.’
      • ‘These babies pair with any Bluetooth-enabled stereo device to let you skip, play, pause, crank up, or dial down your music.’
      • ‘You'll see I've dialed down the magnification to its lowest setting.’
      • ‘A separate selector switch gives the option of having both lasers dialed down to "training" mode.’
      • ‘At times Ennio Morricone's pulsating score is dialed down a little too low in favor of capturing all of the sound design, but it's not a terrible trade.’
      • ‘You can extend the battery life by dialling down the screen brightness.’
      • ‘I heard myself shouting a few times and had to forcibly dial down the volume.’
      1. 1.1informal Lessen the amount, intensity, or degree of a quality, factor, etc.
        ‘he's dialled down the rage that seems to permeate his other novels’
        ‘having read this review I think I will dial down my expectations a little’
        • ‘As you turn 40 and then 50 and eventually retire, the funds will gradually and automatically dial down the risk in your portfolio by buying more bonds.’
        • ‘We don't all have to start quoting scripture, we just have to dial down the mockery a notch.’
        • ‘We should probably try to keep the outrage dialed down just a bit.’
        • ‘It's true that MTV has dialed down and almost eliminated its war coverage in recent weeks, returning to its party-all-the-time spring break programming.’
        • ‘He seems to have dialed down his extreme tone a bit.’
        • ‘He dials down the mystique and charisma, though his boyish good looks will still likely make the girls swoon.’
        • ‘She needs to increase muscularity in certain parts of her body, train for gymnastic skills, increase her flexibility and dial down the workout hours.’
        • ‘There isn't going to be a compromise until folks start trying to engage with each other and dial down some of the rhetoric.’
        • ‘The alcoholic content was duly dialled down, to near zero.’
        • ‘It isn't the only big food company to react to the recession by dialing down new product development, which is expensive and risky.’
        • ‘The chip makers have been quick to adapt, by dialing down the spud content in their recipes and cranking up the soy.’
        • ‘There may be room to dial down the risk in your total portfolio through both long-term and dynamic asset allocation decisions.’
  • dial in (or into)

    • Access a computer system or service remotely via a telephone line.

      ‘there's no need to dial in to see if you have mail’
      ‘remote workers or travelling employees can dial into the data network’
      • ‘This address will normally change each time you dial in, which makes it hard for a hacker to identify your individual machine.’
      • ‘The overwhelming majority of the pay-as-you-go customers dial in less than once a month and generate little if any revenue.’
      • ‘Once you dial in to your ISP, all you have to do is load whatever browser you want to use.’
      • ‘The new generation of wireless devices means it is now possible to remain constantly connected to the office, without the need to dial in.’
      • ‘There's 10/100 wired Ethernet, and users can dial in using the built-in 57Kbps modem.’
      • ‘Whenever you dial in to an Internet connection, your ISP can determine your phone number with caller ID.’
      • ‘Curious, I dialed into voicemail and played back the message.’
      • ‘She found the password written on the first page of her phone book and dialed into the voice mail system.’
      • ‘The company blamed heavier than anticipated usage of the service for the temporary suspension, after existing customers were unable to dial in.’
      • ‘So each time I dial in for mail and, perhaps, a little surf session, a meter starts back at the phone exchange and the pennies begin to tick away.’
      • ‘We dialled into the Internet and went to AltaVista.’
  • dial something in (or into)

    • 1Indicate or regulate by means of a dial.

      ‘you're expected to dial in volume and tone settings’
      • ‘Essentially, this is a glass-based system that allows the driver to dial in the amount of diffusion that he or she is comfortable with.’
      • ‘You can dial in contrast, brightness, and individual RGB levels for the incoming signal from a PC's graphics card.’
      • ‘In general, digital tuners seem to work better, and are certainly easier to setup, since you can dial in the exact desired frequency.’
      • ‘It's something you can dial in on your own with some experimentation.’
      • ‘This allows you to dial in reasonable settings in front of clients before switching in the processing.’
      • ‘I can now dial in the speed I require, anywhere from 25 to 60 mph, and relax.’
      • ‘It has an infinitely adjustable two-bolt head so you can dial in your saddle tilt.’
      • ‘We also really liked being able to dial in different effects from the NSP engine depending on the type of audio material we were listening to.’
      • ‘It floats through bends, refusing to step out, until you learn to push its limits and then it will take the exit with any level of oversteer you care to dial in.’
      • ‘Then try out our methodology to dial in the just-right combination of image quality and frame rate.’
      • ‘As the day wore on I noticed we had to dial in more elevation and although we were still making consistent hits at 300 yards I suspected we had shot the barrel out.’
      1. 1.1Include or add.
        ‘the car has a lot of understeer dialled into the suspension’
        • ‘In addition, Toyota's engineers have dialed in a comfortable seatback angle, which means long trips in the back seats are enjoyable.’
        • ‘There's nothing basic or unrefined about the little hatchback, but the engineers have managed to dial in great dollops of fun.’
        • ‘After living with three kitchens in less than two years, I have dialed in many of my future kitchen's must-haves.’
        • ‘Argue the point all you want, but virtually every modern car bar the hardest TVRs have understeer dialled in to safeguard the occupants.’
        • ‘Don't even think about stepping onto a glacier until you've dialed in these mountaineering skills.’
  • be (or get) dialled in

    • Be or become so focused that one is able to perform to the best of one's abilities.

      ‘I didn't really get dialled in until the final qualifying session’
      • ‘You mustn't rush into bends too fast because you can drift out but we'll get some great racing once the riders get dialled in.’
      • ‘A semifinal bye helped Omond get dialed in for the final against Miller.’
      • ‘Without meaning to sound too awful, I don't think that I could really focus in the same way if she was there because you have to be as professional as possible, completely dialled in, if you want to give it your best shot.’
      • ‘We're both dialed in, so to change this successful formula would be a mistake.’
      • ‘Once you've downshifted your calories, you need only follow these basic guidelines to get your body dialed in for the beach over the next three months.’
      • ‘While he has the power to wreak havoc as a three-down lineman, Warren is dialed in only for short stretches, has never developed a lethal counter move to his bull rush and gets fat and lazy.’
      • ‘He is known as a streak hitter who, when he does get dialed in, can carry a team on his back.’
      • ‘Hudson was also dialled in, scoring 28 points and going six of 10 from the three-point line.’
      • ‘Anthony was in much better shape than he was two weeks ago at the Atlantic City Pro, but still wasn't as dialed in as several other competitors who appeared to have the edge in terms of conditioning.’
  • dial up (or dial something up)

    • Access a computer system or service remotely via a telephone line.

      ‘dialling up each time we want to use the Internet will become a thing of the past’
      ‘people do not have to pay for phone line calls every time they dial up to the internet’
      ‘plans to enable customers to dial up videos from their living room’
      • ‘The company's traffic comes largely from its 22.2 million subs, who see the portal whenever they dial up.’
      • ‘Those bringing laptops may plug in and dial up to their usual ISPs.’
      • ‘Those which had firewall virus protection on their systems had beaten away the bug, but those without found their systems spontaneously rebooting every time they dialled up the Internet.’
      • ‘I decided to dial up the new series, and much to my surprise, found myself hooked in a very short time, albeit confused from the outset because I hadn't seen the three hour miniseries.’
      • ‘Valley geeks were already hopping onto Wi-Fi hotspots and playing with "smart" phones, but most people were still dialling up to connect to the internet and using mobile phones only for talking.’
      • ‘I never dial up to listen to my voice messages.’
      • ‘Because the personal computer at home is permanently connected, there is no need to dial up for access.’
      • ‘It is always-on and connected, eliminating the need to dial up for access, and connect and disconnect from the internet.’
      • ‘You will not be able to change your password unless you have dialed up to the network and are connected.’
      • ‘While most people used to dial up to their ISP for limited amounts of time, now many are online 24/7, thanks to their broadband Net connection.’
  • dial something up

    • 1Adjust the control on an electrical device so as to increase the level of sound, light, heat, etc. produced.

      ‘even with everything dialled up to full, the audio output level was only moderate at best’
      • ‘I developed a cramp in my thumb dialing the volume up and down to compensate for the uneven audio levels.’
      • ‘The brightness and contrast controls operate on a 100-point scale, but the brightness control had no effect on the display's black level until we dialed it up past 65.’
      • ‘At one point her right lung stopped functioning, her left lung only partially worked, and a machine that provided oxygen had to be dialed up to 100 percent.’
      • ‘Andrew dialed up the music on the jukebox.’
      • ‘Nickolai reached over to the ancient metal desk where the professor who had worked here had kept his own collection and dialed up the heat.’
      • ‘He could basically tune his guitar to the room, find out how the room responded to the amplifier, and dial it up so he could have maximum control of the feedback.’
      • ‘The music that plays over the menus, however, is dialed up to half again the volume of the feature itself, resulting in ear-shock when transitioning from one to the other.’
      • ‘The bass seems to have been dialled up a little.’
      • ‘Minute by minute, someone dialed up the music, 'til it was hard to hear each other, even from a foot or two away.’
      • ‘Turning to the record player, he dialed up the volume as high as it would go.’
      1. 1.1informal Increase the amount, intensity, or degree of a quality, factor, etc.
        ‘the Raiders really dialled up the pressure in the second half’
        • ‘"Welcome to the world of grizzly bears," he would say, sometimes employing an Aussie accent, which he typically dialed up for women and children.’
        • ‘On a recent red carpet she dialed up the drama with more hot makeup: intense eyeliner and a deep berry pout.’
        • ‘First up were alt-rockers Take the Day, a five-piece from Milwaukee who dialed up the energy level on their set.’
        • ‘The troubled telco has hired a new president to dial up growth.’
        • ‘Gateway dialed up spending to more than $50 million as it seeks more users in the business market.’
        • ‘He's slipping in the polls and dialing up the heat on the campaign trail.’
        • ‘The president is now dialing up his rhetoric.’
        • ‘I'm positive the F1 veteran will progress quite nicely throughout the month and will qualify easily, but will he be able to dial up the aggression if necessary?’
        • ‘The New York creatives were asked to work up a print/outdoor campaign that would ‘dial up the cool factor’.’
        • ‘Yes, the action has been dialed up to a whole new level.’
        • ‘Having made his intentions known, Nixon dialed up the charm.’

Origin

Middle English (denoting a mariner's compass): from medieval Latin diale ‘clock dial’, based on Latin dies ‘day’.

Pronunciation

dial

/dʌɪəl/