nadir

noun
na·dir | \ ˈnā-ˌdir , 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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Refinery29 spoke with the cast at BAM CinemaFest about their nadirs of middle school. Rebecca Farley, refinery29.com, "The Stars Of Eighth Grade Relive Their Middle School Horror Stories," 13 July 2018 Talk of a blue wave this year that would give Democrats control of Congress has been thrown into question by a strong economy as well as a small, but steady increase in Trump’s approval since its nadir last year. John Fritze, USA TODAY, "Trump's summit with Kim Jong Un may give him some political benefits for midterms," 11 June 2018 What became known as Bloody Sunday marked a nadir in British-Irish relations, and brought the GAA into direct conflict with the British establishment. Robert Avery, Houston Chronicle, "Dozen players named to represent Deer Park in Mustang all-star competition," 24 May 2018 Ronald Reagan brought his California movie-star wattage and conservative duende, and, like that, after a four-year interlude from the Nixonian nadir, the Republican party was seemingly resurrected and would run the table for the next 12 years. Michael Paterniti, GQ, "Jimmy Carter for Higher Office," 26 June 2018 The nadir was the Iraq oil-for-food programme in the 1990s, administered by the UN. The Economist, "Zap! American officials can destroy foreign firms like gremlins on a screen," 5 May 2018 Body temperature peaks in the late afternoon and hits its nadir in the early morning hours. Richard Klasco, M.d., New York Times, "Do I Have a Fever? My Temperature Is 98.6 but I Feel Feverish," 9 Feb. 2018 Sorrentino, 35, walked into the Jersey Shore: Family Vacation Miami house at a personal nadir and is walking out a new — and newly engaged — man. refinery29.com, "The Situation Was The Big Winner Of Jersey Shore: Family Vacation," 29 June 2018 But Mallee’s first series against his former team also represented the Phillies’ offensive nadir. Scott Lauber, Philly.com, "Nick Williams, with inside info from hitting coach, powers Phillies win over Cubs," 5 June 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about nadir

Listen to Our Podcast about nadir

Dictionary Entries near nadir

Nader

Naderism

NADH

nadir

nadiral

nadorite

NADP

Statistics for nadir

Last Updated

25 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for nadir

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for nadir

nadir

noun

English Language Learners Definition of nadir

: the worst or lowest point of something

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on nadir

What made you want to look up nadir? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

the setting in which something occurs

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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