Definition of sun in English:

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Pronunciation: /sən/


1 (the sun or the Sun) The star around which the earth orbits.
Example sentences
  • Venus orbits around the sun faster than the earth, which also has a longer distance to cover.
  • In 1705 Halley showed that the comet, which is now called after him, moved in an elliptical orbit round the sun.
  • Copernicus must surely have had it in mind when he came up with the idea that the earth orbited the sun.
1.1Any star in the universe similar to the sun, with or without planets.
Example sentences
  • A planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology has discovered the first extrasolar planet under three suns in the constellation Cygnus.
  • Remember, our solar system is contained within the Milky Way galaxy which in turn is comprised of many other planets, suns and stars!
  • Astronomers hope to study the structure and evolution of the Universe, and to search for planetary systems around other suns.

The sun is the central body of the solar system. It provides the light and energy that sustains life on earth, and its position relative to the earth’s axis determines the terrestrial seasons. The sun is a star of a type known as a G2 dwarf, a sphere of hydrogen and helium 870,000 miles (1.4 million km) in diameter that obtains its energy from nuclear fusion reactions in its interior, where the temperature is about 15 million°C. The surface is a little under 6,000°C.

2 (usually the sun) The light or warmth received from the earth’s sun: we sat outside in the sun
More example sentences
  • Plant it in an area which receives full sun, digging it into soil which has been improved with the addition of compost and manure.
  • Buy them in bloom, and plant them in full sun (light afternoon shade in hot climates).
  • It compensated for standing in the hot sun without proper food or water for five days!
sunshine, sunlight, daylight, light, warmth;
beams, rays
2.1 literary A person or thing regarded as a source of glory or inspiration or understanding: the rhetoric faded before the sun of reality
2.2 literary Used with reference to someone’s success or prosperity: the sun of the Plantagenets went down in clouds
More example sentences
  • There is little doubt that Erris deserve their day in the sun but what made this victory extra special was the manner in which it was achieved.
  • The sun of the Roman Empire set, so to speak, in the East, and it is to Byzantium we must turn our eyes for the continuation of the art of horsemanship as of the Fine Arts.
  • When the sun of the Stuarts set forever on the bloody plain of Culloden, Prince Charlie fled the stricken field with a few followers to the mountain fastnesses of Scotland.
3 literary A day or a year: after going so many suns without food, I was sleeping
More example sentences
  • After many suns the fighting stopped and the people came back again, but the beautiful valley of the great river was all changed.
  • Five suns passed, and still another five suns had risen and set, and yet no braves returned.
  • Before any more suns set, before opportunists destroy the ethical science-based practice of medicine, before our children abandon the dream of practicing medicine, let us pledge to stand shoulder to shoulder and march forward toward our goal.

verb (suns, sunning, sunned)

(sun oneself)
1Sit or lie in the sun: Buzz could see Clare sunning herself on the terrace below
More example sentences
  • For the Indian security forces, whose speedboats, armed with heavy machine guns, cruised past visitors sunning themselves on the lake's famous house boats, the coming of summer means just one thing: the start of the fighting season.
  • Tuck into clotted cream and freshly baked scones while sunning yourself on the terrace overlooking the beach.
  • While other children were sunning themselves on beaches in Brittany or sending postcards from Greece, we were getting drenched at Culloden or counting midge-bites by Loch Arkaig.
1.1 [with object] Expose (something) to the sun, especially to warm or dry it: the birds are sunning their wings
More example sentences
  • This can actually lessen the burden of sunning the plants once a while.
  • Like many other Shanghai residents, housewife Sheng Chongming has sunned clothes and quilts from her balcony for dozens of years.
  • I've seen one neighbor's cat writhing around on the sidewalk and yowling while my cat sunned his fat stomach in our driveway, unfazed.



against the sun

Nautical Against the direction of the sun’s apparent movement in the northern hemisphere; from right to left or counterclockwise.
Example sentences
  • It's also worth noting that it's more difficult on the body to travel against the sun, or west to east, than it is to go east to west.
  • Kim and I have journeyed against the sun, from California to New York; we gave up a life in Silicon Valley to become innkeepers in Greenville New York.
  • Accordingly, most sail-ships carry a secondary propulsion system (such as thrusters or an ion engine) for emergency maneuvering and sailing against the sun.

catch the sun

see catch.

make hay while the sun shines

see hay1.

on which the sun never sets

(Of an empire) worldwide.
Applied in the 17th century to the Spanish dominions, later to the British Empire
Example sentences
  • What an empire, the British Empire, on which the sun never sets!
  • And here the Disney empire on which the sun never sets is on its best creative behavior.
  • Last week, as Cokemen surveyed their empire, on which the sun never sets, their blood almost audibly fizzed with pride.

place in the sun

see place.

shoot the sun

Nautical Ascertain the altitude of the sun with a sextant in order to determine one’s latitude.
Example sentences
  • To shoot the sun, the navigator would hold the astrolabe in such a manner as to allow the sun's rays to pass through the upper vane, turning the alidade until the small beam of light fell on the hole of the lower vane.
  • Star and planet sights must be taken at dusk and dawn when both these bodies and the horizon are clearly visible, but you can shoot the sun and moon at any time of the day when you can see them.
  • In the afternoon we hove to and tried to get the boat still enough for Ken to shoot the sun with a sextant.

under the sun

On earth; in existence (used in expressions emphasizing the large number of something): they exchanged views on every subject under the sun
More example sentences
  • Someone, somewhere has passed a witty, wise or outrageous remark on almost every subject under the sun.
  • The collection covers an overwhelming array of subjects, probably everything under the sun!
  • She is so at ease on stage and has tons of great material on every subject under the sun.

with the sun

Nautical In the direction of the sun’s apparent movement in the northern hemisphere; from left to right or clockwise.
Example sentences
  • In other words, his journey around the globe would have taken him two days longer than the man who traveled with the sun and made the trip in no time.
  • After I found out that this great red dragon rose and set with the sun, I very reasonably suspected that he traveled with the sun.



Pronunciation: /-ˌlīk/
Example sentences
  • The discovery will lend support to the idea that almost every sunlike star in our galaxy, and probably the Universe, is accompanied by planets.
  • By recording the motion of the sunlike star HD 70642 for 5 years, scientists have discerned that an unseen planet at least twice as massive as Jupiter is tugging on it.
  • The new picture for the first time resolves faint, sunlike stars in a galaxy other than the Milky Way.


Pronunciation: /ˈsənwərd/
adjective& adverb
Example sentences
  • But by monitoring conditions in space on the sunward side of Earth, and by modeling what the varying solar wind will do to the magnetic field, power grid operators can steal 30 minutes of preparation time, Kappenman says.
  • One brings us back to Brooklyn: it is called Spring Yellows, Botanic Gardens and shows weedy tangles of wildflowers lifting their leaves sunward as spring advances and winter's dolor is shucked off for another year.
  • Certain fish species are known to orient and migrate using a solar compass, but it is not known whether any species employ sunward orientation as a cryptic strategy.


Pronunciation: /ˈsənwərdz/
Example sentences
  • Here, in the north pavilion is a sliding door which opens on to a big verandah that looks out sunwards into the bush over a small area cleared for evening barbecues.
  • But the further sunwards it goes, the bigger it has to be to provide the same amount of shielding.
  • The period remains constant with height but the amplitude decreases as the wave travels sunwards.


Old English sunne, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zon and German Sonne, from an Indo-European root shared by Greek hēlios and Latin sol.

  • An Old English word whose root was related to the Latin and Greek words for sun, sol ( see solar) and hēlios. People say the sun is over the yardarm when they think that the time of day has been reached when it is socially acceptable to drink alcohol. This is an old nautical expression which goes back to the late 19th century. A yardarm is the end section of a yard, a thick tapering pole slung across a ship's mast for a sail to hang from. At certain times of year the sun rises far enough up the sky to show above the topmost yardarm. In summer in the north Atlantic, where the phrase seems to have originated, this would have been at about 11 a.m., which was the time of the first rum issue of the day—not 6 in the evening, as is often thought. The earliest known example of the phrase comes from a series of travel articles by Rudyard Kipling, published under the title From Sea to Sea (1899): ‘The American does not drink at meals as a sensible man should…Also he has no decent notions about the sun being over the yard-arm or below the horizon.’ A sundowner is a different matter altogether. In colonial days, especially in South Africa, it was a drink taken at sunset, whereas in Australia it was a tramp who arrived at a sheep station around sundown and pretended to be seeking work, to get food and a night's lodging. The phrase there is nothing new under the sun is biblical, from the Book of Ecclesiastes: ‘The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.’ People only seem to have sunbathed since the 1940s—before that the usual term was sunbath or, in Australia and New Zealand, sunbake. See also son

Words that rhyme with sun

begun, bun, done, Donne, dun, fine-spun, forerun, fun, gun, Gunn, hon, Hun, none, nun, one, one-to-one, outdone, outgun, outrun, plus-one, pun, run, shun, son, spun, stun, ton, tonne, tun, underdone, Verdun, won

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sun

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