noun na·dir \ ˈnā-ˌdir , ˈnā-dər \
|Updated on: 14 Jul 2018

Definition of nadir

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

nadir was our Word of the Day on 06/30/2016. Hear the podcast!

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. WoodAntiquesAugust 1995
  2. But then, at the very nadir of that dark abandoned moment, that moment of despair and sickness unto death, … —T. Coraghessan BoyleThe Road to Wellville1993
  3. My nadir was the time I presented an oral book report on "Les Misérables," having read only the Classic Comics version … —Stephen Jay GouldNew York Times Book Review12 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

Recent Examples of nadir from the Web

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

nadir Has Arabic Roots

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

illustration of nadir

Origin and Etymology of nadir

Middle English, from Middle French, from Arabic naḍhīr opposite

Other Astronomy Terms

NADIR Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of nadir for English Language Learners

  • : the worst or lowest point of something

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a simultaneous discharge of guns

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