Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun ze·nith \ˈzē-nəth, Canada also & British usually ˈze-nəth, -nith\

Simple Definition of zenith

  • : the strongest or most successful period of time

  • : the highest point reached in the sky by the sun, moon, etc.

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of zenith

  1. 1 :  the point of the celestial sphere that is directly opposite the nadir and vertically above the observer — see azimuth illustration

  2. 2 :  the highest point reached in the heavens by a celestial body

  3. 3 :  culminating point :  acme <at the zenith of his powers — John Buchan>

Examples of zenith in a sentence

  1. <at the zenith of her career as a dancer>

Did You Know?

When you reach the zenith, you’re at the top, the pinnacle, the summit, the peak. Zenith developed from Arabic terms meaning "the way over one’s head," and then traveled through Old Spanish, Medieval Latin, and Middle French before arriving in English. As long ago as the 1300s, English speakers used zenith to name the highest point in the celestial heavens, directly overhead. By the 1600s, zenith was being used for other high points as well. As in our example sentence, zenith is often contrasted with nadir. In celestial contexts, the nadir is the point that is vertically downward from the observer (imagine a line going through the earth from the observer's feet and out the other side into the sky). Figuratively, nadir simply means "the lowest point."

Origin and Etymology of zenith

Middle English cenyth, senyth, from Middle French cenit, from Medieval Latin, from Old Spanish zenit, modification of Arabic samt (al-ra's) way (over one's head)

First Known Use: 14th century

Other Astronomy Terms

ZENITH Defined for Kids


noun ze·nith \ˈzē-nəth\

Definition of zenith for Students

  1. 1 :  the point in the sky directly overhead

  2. 2 :  the highest point or stage <She was at the zenith of her career.>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up zenith? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a block used as a base for a statue

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of these is a synonym of namby-pamby?

insipid insightful energetic lithe
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.