\ˈȯrb \

Definition of orb 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : any of the concentric spheres in old astronomy surrounding the earth and carrying the celestial bodies in their revolutions

2 archaic : something circular : circle, orbit

3 : a spherical body especially : a spherical celestial object

4 : eye

5 : a sphere surmounted by a cross symbolizing kingly power and justice


orbed; orbing; orbs

Definition of orb (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to form into a disk or circle

2 archaic : encircle, surround, enclose

intransitive verb

archaic : to move in an orbit

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Synonyms for orb

Synonyms: Noun

ball, globe, sphere

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Examples of orb in a Sentence


The moon was a silvery orb. out of the countless celestial orbs twirling in space, the planet Earth remains the only one we can call home, so perhaps we should take care of it

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The thieves snatched two gold crowns and an orb made for King Karl IX and Queen Kristina in the daring robbery. Fox News, "Thieves steal Swedish royal jewels, escape by speedboat," 1 Aug. 2018 On Vo's model for her masterclass, the Lumilayer Primer Original made her cheekbones look like there were little orbs of light inside of each of them. Devon Abelman, Allure, "Exclusive: Korean Makeup Brand VDL Is Launching in the U.S. With 3 Glass Skin–Inspired Primers," 31 July 2018 The moon will be a dark supermoon, which occurs when a shadowy new lunar orb is exceptionally close to the Earth, adding to the eeriness of the event. Eileen Reslen, Popular Mechanics, "A Supermoon Partial Eclipse Is Happening Just in Time for Friday the 13th," 13 July 2018 While some people view photos with flecks of light—or orbs, as they're often known—as a sign of supernatural activity, the society doesn't. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "4 Signs Your House Might Be Haunted," 5 Oct. 2018 Two crowns worn by Karl IX and Queen Kristina, as well as a royal orb, were taken from the 13th Century Strangnas Cathedral. Jay Akbar, Fox News, "Thieves swipe Swedish crown jewels, then escape on motorboat," 31 July 2018 Yes, there are plutonium orbs, a shadowy cabal of anarchists threatening nuclear Armageddon, but—spoiler—Cruise stops them! Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "5 Reasons You Have to See Mission: Impossible—Fallout (Really!)," 26 July 2018 Or, buy one for yourself and cozy up with a good book next to the glowing orb. Rebecca Shinners, Country Living, "These Magnificent Moon Lanterns Will Light Up Your Home Like Never Before," 16 July 2018 An orb with sawtooth mouth clenches a snake, whose head disappears into a cut-out heart flecked with blossoms and flies. Leah Ollman, latimes.com, "The disturbing meets the sweet in Alex Anderson's new sculptures at Gavlak," 4 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The pearlescent orbs warm up your face in a way that's more natural thanks to varying shades and a little shimmer. Hannah Morrill, Marie Claire, "These Are the Exact Products You Need for the Glowiest Skin of Your Life," 30 June 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'orb.' 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 orb


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1600, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for orb


Middle English, borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French orbe, borrowed from Latin orbis "disk, circle, sphere, orbit," perhaps a derivative of an Indo-European verbal base *h3erbh- "turn, be turned over, undergo transfer," whence also Tocharian B yerpe "disk," Hittite harp- "change sides, change allegiance"

Note: See also etymology at orphan entry 1.


derivative of orb entry 1

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Statistics for orb

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for orb

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

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More Definitions for orb



English Language Learners Definition of orb

: something (such as a planet, the sun, or the moon) that is shaped like a ball

: a gold ball with a cross on top that is carried by a king or queen on formal occasions as a symbol of power and justice


\ˈȯrb \

Kids Definition of orb

: something in the shape of a ball (as a planet or the eye)

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More from Merriam-Webster on orb

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with orb

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for orb

Spanish Central: Translation of orb

Nglish: Translation of orb for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of orb for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about orb

Comments on orb

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


a nest or breeding place

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