ori·​ent | \ ˈȯr-ē-ˌent How to pronounce orient (audio) \
oriented; orienting; orients

Definition of orient

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to direct (something, such as a book or film) toward the interests of a particular group
2a : to set right by adjusting to facts or principles
b : to acquaint with the existing situation or environment
3a : to set or arrange in any determinate position especially in relation to the points of the compass
b : to ascertain the bearings of
c : to cause to face or point toward the east specifically : to build (a church or temple) with the longitudinal axis pointing eastward and the chief altar at the eastern end
4 : to cause the axes of the molecules of (a fiber or material) to assume the same direction


ori·​ent | \ ˈȯr-ē-ənt How to pronounce orient (audio) , -ē-ˌent \

Definition of orient (Entry 2 of 3)

1 Orient : regions or countries lying to the east of a specified or implied point : the eastern regions or countries of the world : east sense 2 formerly understood to include regions (such as the Middle East) lying to the east and southeast of southern Europe but now usually understood to refer to regions and countries of eastern Asia sailed for the Orient
2a : a pearl of great luster
b : the luster of a pearl
3 archaic : east sense 1b



Definition of orient (Entry 3 of 3)

1a : lustrous, sparkling orient gems
b archaic : radiant, glowing
2 archaic : oriental sense 1
3 archaic : rising in the sky

Examples of orient in a Sentence

Verb The program is intended to orient students toward a career in medicine. Orient the map so that north is at the top. The house is oriented so that it faces west.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The book is extremely easy to follow, guiding readers through everything from reading symbols and contours on topo maps, to the difference between true north and magnetic north, to using the night sky or flora and fauna to orient yourself. The Editors, Outside Online, 9 Mar. 2022 Though cultural anthropology now often espouses social justice aims, there are no guarantees that an anthropologist (85% of whom are white in the US) would orient or deploy algorithms in a less biased way than, say, a computer scientist. Elena Maris, Wired, 12 Jan. 2022 Still, the authors, publishing houses, and publication dates are all listed and will help to orient the reader who cares to track the history of each edition discussed. Adam Rowe, Forbes, 1 Jan. 2022 Realizing the importance of journaling as a way for people to orient themselves, Sive imbues the pages with her decades of experience as a community organizer and social justice advocate. Darcel Rockett, chicagotribune.com, 25 Dec. 2021 Compasses orient themselves to the Earth's magnetic field lines. Kate S. Petersen, USA TODAY, 23 Feb. 2022 Teachers started with the basics: how to orient and hold a book, and where the names of the author and illustrator could be found. New York Times, 8 Mar. 2022 That's a reflection of the natural social dynamic of the group, as the other eight re-orient themselves around the new justice. Joan Biskupic, CNN, 25 Feb. 2022 Where many competitors use surveying equipment that’s accurate to within a thousandth of a degree to orient their robots on startup, Coordinated often relies on a plumb bob (cost: a few bucks). Tom Vanderbilt, Wired, 1 Feb. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun At online conferences, saying your name before starting your talk helps orient participants who might be listening to the call without video. Anne Quito, Quartz, 25 Mar. 2022 At Pompeii, the soft robotic hands will need to grasp, move and orient fragments of varying sizes and weights with extreme care—and gather information about them in the process. Jen Pinkowski, Scientific American, 6 Dec. 2021 In another sense, our values orient and order our desires. Kathy Caprino, Forbes, 4 June 2021 Teach people to step back and observe, orient, decide, then act. Andrew Olsen, Forbes, 5 May 2021 The nature tours orient kids and adults to flora and fauna of the Lowcountry while educating them about conservation. Sucheta Rawal, Travel + Leisure, 26 Feb. 2021 Day-to-day politics is of intrinsic interest for us political animals, and the issues of the day orient much or most of our political reflection. Daniel J. Mahoney, National Review, 28 Dec. 2020 The woman, Janie Marshall, grabbed onto another patient’s IV pole to regain her balance and orient herself, the police said. New York Times, 8 Apr. 2020 The way our brain orients to making music on a guitar is just different to a keyboard layout. Dan Kopf, Quartz, 30 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective This is still an important aspect, but the newer focus is now on taking additional steps to not only observe or orient, but being able to track and predict the trajectory of any phenomenon. Kathleen Walch, Forbes, 16 Oct. 2021 It’s time we re-orient goals or OKRs to align with this new thinking around best people practices and to create an aligned sense of purpose across the entire organization. Beth Thornton, Forbes, 21 June 2021 Across the country, and in many parts of the globe, those who did not have to be on-site somewhere used their extra time without the commute and travel to re-orient, re-engage, and re-focus on themselves. David Rock, Forbes, 2 June 2021 In 1943, the US Coast Guard established a long-range navigation (Loran) site on the southwestern coast of the island, part of a network that helped fighter planes and warships orient on the Pacific with the help of regular pulses of radio waves. Sarah Gilman, Smithsonian Magazine, 7 Oct. 2020 The idea was to re-orient research toward local priorities—sea ice high among them. Matthew Halliday/undark, Popular Science, 29 May 2020 Vertically orient the lens inside the phone, and use a periscope-like prism to let in light. Popular Science, 3 Dec. 2019 The city, once the pearl of the orient, was totally destroyed – shelling and street-to-street fighting left little standing. Fox News, 5 Mar. 2020 If fuel can't power the thrusters that make sure both probes orient their antennae toward Earth, engineers wouldn't be able to receive data or communicate with the probes. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 29 Jan. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'orient.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of orient


1728, in the meaning defined at sense 3c


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for orient


French orienter, from Middle French, from orient

Noun and Adjective

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin orient-, oriens, from present participle of oriri to rise; akin to Sanskrit ṛṇoti he moves, arises, Greek ornynai to rouse, oros mountain

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The first known use of orient was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

6 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Orient.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/orient. Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for orient


ori·​ent | \ ˈōr-ē-ˌent How to pronounce orient (audio) \
oriented; orienting

Kids Definition of orient

1 : to set or arrange in a position especially so as to be lined up with certain points of the compass Builders oriented the house to face east.
2 : to make familiar with an existing situation or environment Volunteers are needed to orient new students.
3 : to direct toward the interests of a particular group The movie is oriented toward children.

Other Words from orient

orientation \ ˌōr-​ē-​ən-​ˈtā-​shən \ noun


transitive verb
ori·​ent | \ ˈōr-ē-ˌent, ˈȯr- How to pronounce orient (audio) \

Medical Definition of orient

1 : to set or arrange in any determinate position especially in relation to the points of the compass
2 : to acquaint with or adjust according to the existing situation or environment
3 : to cause the axes of the molecules of to assume the same direction

More from Merriam-Webster on orient

Nglish: Translation of orient for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of orient for Arabic Speakers


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