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sextant (noun) an instrument measuring angles and distances, and helping to fix the exact location of a ship or a plane.
A sextant measures angles and distances between stars and thus helps to fix the position of ships at sea or aircraft during their flight.
- The pilot of the ship was unable to determine the exact position of the ship on the sea. The sextant that helps pilots know the position of the ship has gone out of order.
- With the help of the sextant the pilot knew he was thirty thousand feet above ground and was flying due south towards New York. The angles and distances shown by the sextant helped him know that.