syz·​y·​gy | \ ˈsi-zə-jē How to pronounce syzygy (audio) \
plural syzygies

Definition of syzygy

: the nearly straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies (such as the sun, moon, and earth during a solar or lunar eclipse) in a gravitational system

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At first glance, syzygy appears to be a somewhat singular member of the English language. Despite its appearance, however, it does have etymological ties to a few words in Modern English. Syzygy can be traced to the Greek syzygos ("yoked together"), a combination of syn- ("with, together with") and zygon ("yoke"). Zygon is also the source of zygote ("a cell formed by the union of two gametes") and zygoma, which refers to several bones and processes of the skull, including the zygomatic bone (a.k.a., the cheekbone). Zygon is also related to the Old English geoc—the source of the Modern English yoke—and the Latin jungere, from which the English words join and junction are derived.

Examples of syzygy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In fact, Space reports that tonight’s full moon will actually be in perigee-syzygy, which means that Earth, the moon, and the sun will all be in a perfect line. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, 7 Apr. 2020 What was striking to an Angeleno about this concert was just how much Tilson Thomas represented a longtime syzygy between the San Francisco orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Los Angeles Times, 20 Sep. 2019 Triple Cheeseburger Detroit Coney Grill Tt’s tough to beat the unadulterated, magical syzygy of beef and American cheese on a steaming sesame bun. Dominic Armato, azcentral, 23 May 2018 Even the astronomical term for that type of straight-line planetary arrangement is dope: syzygy. Clay Skipper, GQ, 21 Aug. 2017 Solar eclipses when a new moon, the monthly phase during which the moon and sun are on the same side of Earth, coincides with a syzygy, when the sun, moon and Earth are aligned on the same plane. Scott Dance,, 18 Aug. 2017 From Oregon to South Carolina, the solar eclipse taking place on Aug. 21 will track southeast, inspiring travel operators along its route to celebrate the nearly two-minute syzygy — or alignment of the sun, moon and earth. Elaine Glusac, New York Times, 27 Apr. 2017

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

circa 1847, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for syzygy

Late Latin syzygia conjunction, from Greek, from syzygos yoked together, from syn- + zygon yoke — more at yoke

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The first known use of syzygy was circa 1847

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Cite this Entry

“Syzygy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Aug. 2021.

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