noun na·dir \ˈnā-ˌdir, ˈnā-dər\

Definition of nadir

  1. 1 :  the point of the celestial sphere that is directly opposite the zenith and vertically downward from the observer

  2. 2 :  the lowest point

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Examples of nadir in a sentence

  1. Nantucket reached its nadir in the post-Civil War period. The whaling industry had become moribund, many New Englanders had been lured to California by the discovery of gold, and the island population dropped from ten thousand in 1830 to scarcely more than three thousand in 1880. —David H. Wood, Antiques, August 1995

  2. But then, at the very nadir of that dark abandoned moment, that moment of despair and sickness unto death, {} —T. Coraghessan Boyle, The Road to Wellville, 1993

  3. My nadir was the time I presented an oral book report on “Les Misérables,” having read only the Classic Comics version … —Stephen Jay Gould, New York Times Book Review, 12 Oct. 1986

  4. The relationship between the two countries reached a nadir in the 1920s.

  5. the discussion really reached its nadir when people resorted to name-calling

Did You Know?

Nadir is part of the galaxy of scientific words that have come to us from Arabic, a language that has made important contributions in the vocabulary of mathematics, astronomy, medicine, and chemistry. Nadir derives from an Arabic word meaning "opposite"—the opposite, that is, of the zenith, or the highest point of the celestial sphere, the one vertically above the observer. (The word zenith itself is a modification of another Arabic word that means "the way over one's head.") The English poet John Donne is first on record as having used nadir in the figurative sense of "lowest point" in a sermon he wrote in 1627.

Illustration of nadir

Origin and Etymology of nadir

Middle English, from Medieval French, from Arabic naḍhīr opposite

First Known Use: 15th century

Other Astronomy Terms

NADIR Defined for English Language Learners


noun na·dir \ˈnā-ˌdir, ˈnā-dər\

Definition of nadir for English Language Learners

  • : the worst or lowest point of something

Seen and Heard

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a brief usually trivial fact

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