syzygy

noun
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near syzygy

syzygium

syzygy

szaibelyite

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Last Updated

19 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Syzygy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/syzygy. Accessed 29 Sep. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on syzygy

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about syzygy

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