apo·​gee ˈa-pə-(ˌ)jē How to pronounce apogee (audio)
: the point in the orbit of an object (such as a satellite) orbiting the earth that is at the greatest distance from the center of the earth
also : the point farthest from a planet or a satellite (such as the moon) reached by an object orbiting it compare perigee
: the farthest or highest point : culmination
Aegean civilization reached its apogee in Crete.
apogean adjective

Illustration of apogee

Illustration of apogee
  • apogee 1

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Of Apogees, Climaxes, and Culminations

Apogee is often used in its figurative sense, signifying the high point of a career, endeavor, or state (“she was at the apogee of her profession”). This meaning developed as a metaphorical extension of the word’s astronomical sense, denoting the farthest distance from earth of an object orbiting the planet.

A number of other English words that are synonymous with apogee have followed a similar path of figurative development from a technical meaning. Climax (“the most interesting and exciting part of something”) came into English as a term for a series of phrases arranged in ascending order of rhetorical forcefulness. And, very much like apogee, culmination (“the final result of something”) is also rooted in astronomy: it originally referred to the highest point a celestial body reaches in its daily revolution (for example, the sun’s height at noon).

Examples of apogee in a Sentence

shag carpeting reached the apogee of its popularity in the 1970s but is now considered outdated
Recent Examples on the Web Baroque Neapolitan Crèche The city of Naples is synonymous with the crèche, or Nativity scene, an art form that reached its apogee there in the eighteenth century. The New Yorker, 17 Nov. 2023 The apogee—or high point—is 405,500 km (253,000 mi.). Jeffrey Kluger, Time, 2 Aug. 2023 In a news release, the company said its VSS Unity spacecraft reached an apogee of 87.2 km before landing at Spaceport America in New Mexico. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 26 May 2023 The apogee of that is somewhere like Houston, where doing anything on foot is almost impossible. The Politics Of Everything, The New Republic, 26 Apr. 2023 The point where the moon is furthest from the Earth is called the apogee, where the moon is 253,000 miles from Earth on average. Marina Johnson, Detroit Free Press, 18 July 2023 As [German-Jewish philosopher] Walter Benjamin said: ‘If sleep is the apogee of physical relaxation, boredom is the apogee of mental relaxation. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 27 May 2023 For Will Grant, the apogee of man-and-horse-and-landscape is the Pony Express, the courier service that carried mail between St. Joseph, Mo., and Sacramento from the spring of 1860 to the fall of 1861. Carl Hoffman, Washington Post, 6 June 2023 In 1999, with the dot-com boom near its apogee, Angie’s List moved online. Daniel E. Slotnik, New York Times, 14 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'apogee.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French apogée, from New Latin apogaeum, from Greek apogaion, from neuter of apogeios, apogaios far from the earth, from apo- + gē, gaia earth

First Known Use

1640, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of apogee was in 1640

Dictionary Entries Near apogee

Cite this Entry

“Apogee.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apogee. Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


apo·​gee ˈap-ə-(ˌ)jē How to pronounce apogee (audio)
: the point farthest from the center of a heavenly body (as the earth or the moon) reached by an object (as a satellite) orbiting it compare perigee

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