an instrument used by navigators for measuring the angular distance of the sun, a star, etc. from the horizon, as in finding the position of a ship
Origin of sextantModern Latin sextans (gen. sextantis), arc of a sixth part of a circle from L, a sixth part from sextus, sixth
- A navigational instrument containing a graduated 60-degree arc, used for measuring the altitudes of celestial bodies for use in determining the latitude and longitude of the observer.
- Sextant See Sextans.
Origin of sextantNew Latin sextāns sextant- from Latin sixth part (so called because the instrument's arc is a sixth of a circle) from sextus sixth ; see s(w)eks in Indo-European roots.