noun (1)
or·​bit | \ ˈȯr-bət How to pronounce orbit (audio) \

Definition of orbit

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: the bony socket of the eye The orbit encloses and protects the eye and its appendages.


noun (2)

Definition of orbit (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : a path described by one body in its revolution about another (as by the earth about the sun or by an electron about an atomic nucleus) also : one complete revolution of a body describing such a path
b : a circular path
2 : a range or sphere of activity or influence within the president's orbit


orbited; orbiting; orbits

Definition of orbit (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to revolve in an orbit around : circle
2 : to send up and make revolve in an orbit orbit a satellite

intransitive verb

: to travel in circles

Choose the Right Synonym for orbit

Noun (2)

range, gamut, compass, sweep, scope, orbit mean the extent that lies within the powers of something (as to cover or control). range is a general term indicating the extent of one's perception or the extent of powers, capacities, or possibilities. the entire range of human experience gamut suggests a graduated series running from one possible extreme to another. a performance that ran the gamut of emotions compass implies a sometimes limited extent of perception, knowledge, or activity. your concerns lie beyond the narrow compass of this study sweep suggests extent, often circular or arc-shaped, of motion or activity. the book covers the entire sweep of criminal activity scope is applicable to an area of activity, predetermined and limited, but somewhat flexible. as time went on, the scope of the investigation widened orbit suggests an often circumscribed range of activity or influence within which forces work toward accommodation. within that restricted orbit they tried to effect social change

Examples of orbit in a Sentence

Verb The Moon orbits the Earth. The satellites orbit at different heights. The Moon orbits around the Earth.

First Known Use of orbit

Noun (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1696, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1943, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for orbit

Noun (1)

Middle English orbite, orbita, borrowed from Medieval Latin orbita (probably as translation of Greek trochiá), going back to Latin, "track, rut, path of a heavenly body" — more at orbit entry 2

Noun (2)

borrowed from Latin orbita "track, rut, path of a heavenly body," probably derivative of an adjective stem *orbi-t- "wheel-like," derivative of orbis "disk, circle, wheel" — more at orb entry 1


derivative of orbit entry 2

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Time Traveler for orbit

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Orbit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/orbit. Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for orbit


or·​bit | \ ˈȯr-bət How to pronounce orbit (audio) \

Kids Definition of orbit

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the path taken by one body circling around another body The earth makes an orbit around the sun.


orbited; orbiting

Kids Definition of orbit (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to move in an orbit around : circle The moon orbits the earth.
2 : to send up so as to move in an orbit The weather bureau will orbit a new satellite.


or·​bit | \ ˈȯr-bət How to pronounce orbit (audio) \

Medical Definition of orbit

: the bony cavity perforated for the passage of nerves and blood vessels that occupies the lateral front of the skull immediately beneath the frontal bone on each side and encloses and protects the eye and its appendages

called also eye socket, orbital cavity

Other Words from orbit

orbital \ -​ᵊl How to pronounce orbit (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on orbit

Nglish: Translation of orbit for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of orbit for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about orbit


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