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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web

Since late May, Biden’s support has never gone below 26% — his nadir after getting sliced and diced by Harris in the first debate — and no other candidate has climbed as high as 19%. Eugene Robinson, The Mercury News, "Robinson: It’s still Biden’s race to lose," 3 Sep. 2019 The trend reached its nadir at Wimbledon in 2017, when the opponents of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer halted back-to-back matches on Centre Court after less than an hour, shortchanging spectators. Ben Rothenberg, New York Times, "‘Like I’m Some Kind of Criminal’: Tougher Fines in Tennis," 11 July 2019 But life hit its nadir in April 2010, when Robertson was arrested by an undercover police officer for selling crack cocaine. Nora Princiotti,, "Patriots rookie Joejuan Williams has come a long way to make it to the NFL," 23 July 2019 The resignation of the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the United States is a rare instance of a souring in relations between the Trans-Atlantic allies, though there have a few nadirs over the decades. Washington Post, "UK ambassador resignation rare souring of relations with US," 10 July 2019 Though many union leaders and members were Democrats, the relationship between the unions and the Democratic establishment reached a nadir in 2014, when the NEA called for Duncan to resign. Dylan Scott, Vox, "The strike that brought teachers unions back from the dead," 5 July 2019 The leaders’ reunion was a reminder of the nadir of Trump’s presidency: the 2018 Helsinki meeting with Putin. Hal Boedeker,, "Trump has himself to blame for negative coverage," 29 June 2019 But with the global recession at its nadir, and few other options, the strikers soon returned to work. By Vivienne Walt, Fortune, "Boxed In at the Docks: How a Lifeline From China Changed Greece," 22 July 2019 Massachusetts, in contrast, has gained nearly 485,000 jobs since its nadir in late 2009. Jon Chesto,, "Connecticut’s losses are Massachusetts’s gains," 10 June 2019

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.

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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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Statistics for nadir

Last Updated

8 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for nadir

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

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English Language Learners Definition of nadir

formal : the worst or lowest point of something

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More from Merriam-Webster on nadir

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nadir

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nadir

Spanish Central: Translation of nadir

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

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).


to make a temporary encampment

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