apogee

noun

apo·​gee ˈa-pə-(ˌ)jē How to pronounce apogee (audio)
1
: 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
2
: 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shag carpeting reached the apogee of its popularity in the 1970s but is now considered outdated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 The carousing reached its apogee on the final night. Arati Menon, Condé Nast Traveler, 25 May 2024 The mission will target an apogee of 1,400 kilometers. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 10 May 2024 The spaceplane continued skyward on a ballistic trajectory, reaching a maximum altitude, or apogee, of 55.2 miles. William Harwood, CBS News, 26 Jan. 2024 Moreover, the inner tension of that style inflects the rest of the film; Schrader’s spare image-making here reaches an apogee of lyricism, his sense of essential ornament appears forged in fire. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 19 Mar. 2024 See all Example Sentences for apogee 

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

Etymology

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 17 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

apogee

noun
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

More from Merriam-Webster on apogee

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