syz·​y·​gy ˈsi-zə-jē How to pronounce syzygy (audio)
plural syzygies
: 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 The syzygy that Rosen struggled with expresses itself across the two distinct sides of the album. James Reich, SPIN, 8 June 2023 In fact, every eclipse is a syzygy, but not all syzygies are eclipses — just like the prophetic example above, the term could be applied in situations where only planets are in alignment. Lacy Schley, Discover Magazine, 30 May 2017 As reported by Old Farmer’s Almanac, the Sturgeon supermoon will reach its peak—otherwise known as a syzygy, when the moon is almost directly between the Sun and the Earth in a straight line configuration—at 9:36 p.m. EST on Thursday, August 11. Ali Pantony, Glamour, 10 Aug. 2022 According to the American Astronomical Society, a lunar eclipse happens when the sun, Earth, and a full moon form a near-perfect lineup in space, in what is known as syzygy. Timothy Fanning, San Antonio Express-News, 17 Nov. 2021 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. Jessica Gelt, Los Angeles Times, 6 Aug. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'syzygy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

circa 1847, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of syzygy was circa 1847


Dictionary Entries Near syzygy

Cite this Entry

“Syzygy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

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