great circle


Definition of great circle

: a circle formed on the surface of a sphere by the intersection of a plane that passes through the center of the sphere specifically : such a circle on the surface of the earth an arc of which connecting two terrestrial points constitutes the shortest distance on the earth's surface between them

Examples of great circle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The scientists say there are great circle routes around the moon that avoid changing elevation, for example. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 16 June 2021 The animators of Disney’s The Lion King traveled to a park with dramatic landscapes in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley to get a feel for, as Mufasa puts it, the great circle of life. National Geographic, 11 July 2019 On a hyperbolic surface, some geodesics are infinitely long, like straight lines in the plane, but others close up into a loop, like the great circles on a sphere. Quanta Magazine, 12 Aug. 2014 Initially, the researchers tried to brute force the answer by examining every possible great circle on the planet. David Shultz, Science | AAAS, 30 Apr. 2018 Its memorial, at Lands End, stands on the great circle route from San Francisco to Guadalcanal. Gary Kamiya, San Francisco Chronicle, 9 June 2018 All straight-line paths along a sphere form a shape called a great circle. David Shultz, Science | AAAS, 30 Apr. 2018 But there’s hundreds of millions of different possible great circles, each with tens of thousands of points to verify. Julissa Treviño, Smithsonian, 2 May 2018 This path is known as the geodesic or great circle route -- the most efficient way to get from the origin to the destination on a sphere. Kori Rumore And Jemal R. Brinson,, 2 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'great circle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of great circle

circa 1530, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About great circle

Time Traveler for great circle

Time Traveler

The first known use of great circle was circa 1530

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near great circle

great chickweed

great circle

great-circle chart

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for great circle

Cite this Entry

“Great circle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on great circle Encyclopedia article about great circle


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!