armillary sphere


ar·​mil·​la·​ry sphere ˈär-mə-ˌler-ē- How to pronounce armillary sphere (audio) är-ˈmi-lə-rē- How to pronounce armillary sphere (audio)
: an old astronomical instrument composed of rings showing the positions of important circles of the celestial sphere

Examples of armillary sphere in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web One method of cosmic display at this time was the armillary sphere, a globe-like model with several rings to illustrate the motion of the Sun, moon and stars. Cody Cottier, Discover Magazine, 13 Jan. 2023 Two features of the Portuguese flag — the coat of arms and an armillary sphere, a pattern of rings meant to represent the heavens — affirmed its provenance. Ernie Mastroianni, Discover Magazine, 25 June 2019 In its center is a golden sculpture of an armillary sphere, once used by astronomers in Renaissance Venice to study the celestial system. Jennifer Kester, Forbes, 19 Mar. 2021 Ng is a Chinese artifact aficionado, with pieces in the basement of an annex building that include an armillary sphere from the Ming Dynasty and two rare bone sculptures of which there are just four in the world. Faris Mokhtar,, 23 June 2020 There are also lots of smaller instruments—thermometers, sextants, astrolabes—and plenty of globes, as well as an enormous armillary sphere, designed and built by the Italian astronomer Antonio Santucci. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 17 May 2020 One of America's oldest colleges has unveiled a replica of the even older Tycho Brahe armillary sphere. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 2 Jan. 2020 This new armillary sphere is thought to be the only working one on Earth today. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 2 Jan. 2020 Think of an armillary sphere like a circular slide rule with four separate axes. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 2 Jan. 2020 See More

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

Word History


partial translation of New Latin sphaera armillaris; armillary borrowed from New Latin armillāris, from Latin armilla "bracelet, armband, metal ring" (usually in plural armillae; Medieval Latin also "armillary sphere") (from armus "forequarter of an animal, shoulder" + -illa, feminine diminutive suffix) + -āris -ar — more at arm entry 1

First Known Use

1625, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of armillary sphere was in 1625

Dictionary Entries Near armillary sphere

Cite this Entry

“Armillary sphere.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

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