#24. gnomon

#24. gnomon
{NO – mun}
(letters – 6 | syllables – 2)
(scrabble score – 9)
{first use 1546  Elizabethan Renaissance}

noun | indicator provided by the stationary arm whose shadow indicates the time on the sundial.
(wolfram alpha)

  1. an object that by the position or length of its shadow serves as an indicator especially of the hour of the day: as
    a : the pin of a sundial
    b : a column or shaft erected perpendicular to the horizon
  2. the remainder of a parallelogram after the removal of a similar parallelogram containing one of its corners.

Latin, from Greek gnōmōn interpreter, pointer on a sundial, from gignōskein

First Known Use: 1546
(Merriam Webster)


  1. the raised part of a sundial that casts the shadow; a style.
  2. an early astronomical instrument consisting of a vertical shaft, column, or the like, for determining the altitude of the sun or the latitude of a position by measuring the length of its shadow cast at noon.

1540-50; < Latin gnōmōn pin of a sundial < Greek gnṓmōn literally, interpreter, discerner.

Why gnomons are NOT perpindicular to the earth’s surface, but rather, parallel to the earth’s axis can be found here.

There are many examples of gnomons, perhaps the most famous being the obelisks of ancient Egypt. In modern symbology one may find the gnomon many places, including the compass and square. The relationship between the sun, the gnomon, its shadow, and the observor is highly complex dance. This is a key and a very ancient one at that. You may use it as you wish.


About Justin Arn

Part-time Bartender. Full Time Learner. Currently exploring the mystery and wonder of life while coding, reading, and hiking.
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