na·​dir | \ ˈnā-ˌdir How to pronounce nadir (audio) , ˈnā-dər \

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

Illustration of nadir

Illustration of nadir

nadir 1: 1 nadir, 2 observer, 3 zenith

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.

Examples of nadir in a Sentence

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 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 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 The relationship between the two countries reached a nadir in the 1920s. the discussion really reached its nadir when people resorted to name-calling
Recent Examples on the Web The industry shrank from its peak of $24 billion in revenue in 1999, adjusted for inflation, to a nadir of $7.7 billion in 2014. Scott Nover, Quartz, 15 Mar. 2022 And thanks largely but not exclusively to the slap heard ’round the world and the way it was responded to immediately afterwards (or, more aptly, not), the image of the Academy and the Oscars at an all-time nadir. Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 6 Apr. 2022 Lessler proposed that last summer’s pre-Delta nadir might serve as a tentative benchmark. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 5 Apr. 2022 Last year’s cycle represented the nadir of the baseball writers’ annual efforts. Tony Blengino, Forbes, 28 Jan. 2022 The meeting comes at a near nadir in a relationship that most foreign policy analysts expect will define the 21st century. Matthew Brown, USA TODAY, 15 Nov. 2021 Transforming the neon flair of the popular Will Smith sitcom into a flashy drama could be the inevitable nadir of the Hollywood reboot machine going through its recyclables. Caroline Framke, Variety, 9 Feb. 2022 Although Congress’s recent nadir has contributed to this problem, this failing is not new. Michael Bobelian, Forbes, 25 Jan. 2022 After hitting a zenith—or nadir—with a series of disruptive and destructive attacks in the summer of 2021, REvil mostly went dark after international law enforcement compromised its infrastructure. Matt Burgess, Wired, 14 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of nadir

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nadir

Middle English, from Middle French, from Arabic naḍhīr opposite

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The first known use of nadir was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Nadir.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of nadir for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about nadir


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