- Enter a word for the dictionary definition.
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Sextant \Sex"tant\, n. [L. sextans, -antis, the sixth part of an as, fr. sextus sixth, sex six. See Six.] 1. (Math.) The sixth part of a circle. [1913 Webster] 2. An instrument for measuring angular distances between objects, -- used esp. at sea, for ascertaining the latitude and longitude. It is constructed on the same optical principle as Hadley's quadrant, but usually of metal, with a nicer graduation, telescopic sight, and its arc the sixth, and sometimes the third, part of a circle. See Quadrant. [1913 Webster] 3. (Astron.) The constellation Sextans. [1913 Webster] Box sextant, a small sextant inclosed in a cylindrical case to make it more portable. [1913 Webster]